Manchester City travel to FC Basel for their Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash and the Premier League leaders intend to take steps towards winning the competition.
FC Basel host Manchester City for the very first time in their history as the UEFA Champions League action resumes. On paper, it looks like a tie made in heaven for Manchester City, but the English leaders will be aware of the threat posed by the Swiss Champions, who have made it tough for English clubs in the recent past.
Manchester City have an astonishing 16-point lead on at the summit of the Premier League, and so will be expected to field a full-strength squad against Basel. City comes into this tie, with an eye on Europe’s premier trophy as well dreaming of winning the quadruple this season, a dream that is very much alive.
City thrashed Leicester City over the weekend 5-1 and Sergio Aguero scored four-goals while Kevin De Bruyne assisted three in a thorough performance. The Leicester match will have provided a good form to go into the round of 16 first leg clash against Basel.
FC Basel are no strangers to English opposition, having beaten Manchester United in this season’s group stage clash at home. In the Swiss Super League, Basel sit second and with every hope of winning the league. They come into this tie as a team experienced enough to cause upsets.
This would the 29th time Basel faces an English opposition, and in recent times they have handed defeats to Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. But Manchester City not only face Basel for the first time but any Swiss opposition in their history.
Team news & Tactics
FC Basel will be without Swiss international defensive midfielder Luca Zuffi as well goalkeeper Germano Vailati, a long-term absentee this season and both are notable absentees for the City clash.
Manager Raphael Wicky looks set to field a strong team at home, with the likes of defender Suchy, midfielder Toulan Xhaka and striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel all set to feature.
Potential FC Basel starting lineup (4-2-3-1) – Vaclik; Lang, Suchy, Balanta, Petretta; Xhaka, Die; Stocker, Elyounoussi, Bua; Van Wolfswinkel
Team news & tactics
Manchester City will be boosted by the fact that Leroy Sane, David Silva and Fabian Delph have all trained with the squad before the encounter. From the above trio, Delph and Silva could feature against Basel as Sane slowly recovers from an ankle injury sustained against Cardiff in the FA Cup last month.
Gabriel Jesus has been training as well as he too comes back from a knee injury that has kept him out for the last month, although will only be available for the second leg of the round of 16 clashes. In his absence, Sergio Aguero, fresh from scoring four goals at the weekend will lead the city line.
City will most likely field a strong lineup and ensure they take a good advantage back to the Etihad when Basel come there for the return leg.
Potential Manchester City line-up (4-3-3) – Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Danilo; Fernandihno; Gundogan, De Bruyne, B Silva, Sterling; Aguero
- Basel are unbeaten in their two games at St Jakob Park in the knockout stages (W1 D1)
- Basel have won four of their last five home games against English clubs in the Champions League
- Manchester City have won only one of their six away games in the Champions League knockout stages
- They’ve also never kept a clean sheet in those six games
- Raheem Sterling has scored four goals in five Champions League appearances
Player to watch
Sergio Aguero has had an indifferent season under Pep Guardiola, although that has done nothing to stop him from scoring goals. His four-goal performance against Leicester at the weekend demonstrated that.
With the striker in form and Kevin De Bruyne behind the attack, there is a likelihood of the Argentine scoring again, this time against Basel.
FC Basel 1-3 Manchester City
FC Basel have previously been a tricky side for English opposition when visiting their home ground, but in the form City are at the moment, it would prove a difficult task to stop the Premier League leaders.
Manchester City has the best win ratio across the top European leagues this season at 80%, and Basel does not look like they could stop them at any cost.
Manchester City’s free-flowing attackers lead by Argentine genius, Sergio Aguero will prove too hot to handle for the Basel defence, meaning if the home side fails to stop City in the game, the tie could well be over before the Swiss team travels to Manchester for the return leg.