Pep Guardiola will be without four first-team players as Manchester City prepare to host FC Basel in the Round of 16 second leg tie at the Etihad on Wednesday.
Manchester City have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals courtesy their emphatic victory over FC Basel in the first-leg in Switzerland, which may lead to Pep Guardiola making slight changes to his playing XI at the Etihad, as his side prepares to host the Swiss champions at the Etihad on Wednesday.
Many of City’s injured stars have returned to training including long-term absentee, left-back Benjamin Mendy, but it could take a while before the France international is fit for competitive action. Fabian Delph, who replaced Mendy as City’s left back for the season as well as Raheem Sterling have all returned, giving City a timely boost.
Guardiola has Claudio Bravo as his second choice keeper, but despite the Chilean performing well when called upon, Ederson could well start against Basel considering his form between the sticks this season. There could still be a last minute call for Bravo to play if Guardiola decides to give Ederson a rest following some crunch fixtures.
In defence, Guardiola is likely to start with Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany. The Manchester City boss does have a lot of options in central defence with John Stones and Aymeric Laporte as backups. And, Guardiola asserted in his pre-match press conference that he will continue rotating his centre-backs.
“We have four excellent central defenders. John is an extraordinary player. What he has done has shown me that. Kompany was not available for a long period but he played the last games. John had a chance [to play] in the last game and this game his does. They all have to be ready. They have to be prepared for my decisions.”
The full-backs position is also an area where changes could be made, as Danilo is likely to replace Kyle Walker at right-back, considering the English defender has featured heavily in the last few games and could do with a rest. At left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko is expected to get another chance to impress.
Guardiola is also likely to retain the midfield trio of Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, with Fernandinho still out injured. Gabriel Jesus could return the side as well and start on the left side of attack with Bernardo Silva on the right and Sergio Aguero as the striker.
The injury returnees, Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph, could come from the bench at some stage of the game and play a part in what seems like an easy victory for Manchester city considering their unbeaten home record this season in all competitions as well as their quality in attack and defence.