Manchester City host FC Basel in a game that just may be a formality for Pep Guardiola’s side before they enter the Champions League quarter-finals.
Manchester City host FC Basel with one foot firmly placed in the Champions League quarter-finals after thrashing the Swiss side 4-0 in the first-leg of their Round of 16 clashes in Switzerland. In the first game, an Ilkay Gundogan brace, as well as goals from Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva,were enough to set up what seems like a dead rubber.
Manchester City, since the first leg match, have played three tricky fixtures; two against Arsenal and one against Chelsea, winning each of those matches, including the Carabao Cup as they beat the Gunners at Wembley. One could assume City to be in top form ahead of Basel’s visit.
FC Basel, on the other hand, have been in contrasting form, losing four of their last five competitive games, including a elimination from the Swiss Cup at the hands of BSC Young Boys. Additionally, their clash over the weekend was postponed due to bad weather.
Team News & Tactics
Pep Guardiola must be relishing the fact that many of his injured stars have returned to training and could well come in handy to keep their quest for three trophies on track, especially in the Champions League. This could mean he could give some returning players a chance to shine while keeping the side strong against Basel.
Long-term absentee, Benjamin Mendy, Raheem Sterling and makeshift left-back this season, Fabian Delph have all returned to training, but Guardiola is likely to be cautious in starting the forward and midfielder against Basel. Gabriel Jesus, however, could make a start after featuring from the bench in the last few games.
Fernandinho has reportedly failed to recover from the injury he sustained against Arsenal in the cup final and could be out of the Basel clash. Guardiola has several options in central defence, and he is likely to start with the recent pairing of Nicolas Otamendi and captain Vincent Kompany, with Danilo set to continue at left-back in the absence of Fabian Delph.
Probable Starting-XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Kompany, Danilo; David Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Jesus
Team News & Tactics
Since the first leg of this tie, FC Basel have had a few injuries that could throw a spanner in their works as they try to mount an unlikely comeback against Manchester City at the Etihad. The major absentee is goalkeeper Germano Vailati who is out with a long-term injury.
Taulant Xhaka is suspended for this clash and will take no part in the second leg. Luca Zuffi, who missed the first-leg through injury has made a timely return to the squad after his recovery and may be included in the team to face the Citizens.
Eder Balanta is another name who could miss this game with a muscular injury sustained recently. Other than that, the team to face Manchester City could be similar to the one from the first-leg with minor changes.
Probable Starting Lineup (5-2-3): Vaclik; Lang, Akanji, Lacroix, Suchy, Riveros; Frei, Die; Steffen, Oberlin, Petretta
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 12 Champions League home games.
- Basel have won their previous two away games in the Champions League.
- Manchester City have scored six corner goals in this season’s Champions League, which is more than any other team.
- Dimitri Oberlin has scored in each of his last two Champions League away games.
- Raheem Sterling is Manchester City’s top scorer with 4 goals in the Champions League.
Player To Watch
When this season was midway through, the name Vincent Kompany seemed like a forgotten one, as Guardiola’s side looked like their need for their captain and influential figure reduced in the wake of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi’s growing partnership. But, the Belgian has bounced back from injury troubles and lack of form to become a formidable part of the team again.
His recent showings against Arsenal have gone a long way to prove a point and state his intentions for the team. Another excellent performance against Basel on Tuesday would help him cement his status further in Pep Guardiola’s side as the Citizens battle on the remaining two fronts.
Manchester City 4-0 FC Basel
It could well be a repeat of the scoreline from Switzerland in the first-leg. Manchester City are on an unbeaten run at home in all competitions this season which includes 19 wins from 21 games. After getting battered at home, it would be challenging for FC Basel to mount a comeback at the Etihad.
Additionally, Manchester City’s quality in attack and defence will be out there to ensure the goals as well as a tight guard before they land a spot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. We predict a comfortable night for Pep Guardiola & co.