Manchester City will be aiming to keep their hopes of a quadruple burning bright, when they face German outfit FC Schalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League.
Manchester City will be hoping to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League, when they face off against Schalke in the second leg of their Round of 16 contest on Tuesday night.
The first leg between the two teams in Germany was a roller-coaster ride as a ten-man Manchester City side came back from the cusp of a defeat to beat Schalke 3-2, courtesy of late goals Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, after Sergio Aguero had handed them an early lead.
Since that night in Germany, Manchester City have won all of their four fixtures in all competitions, with their latest match ending in a 3-1 triumph over Watford this past weekend. Having already won the Carabao Cup, Pep Guardiola’s side are in contention for the Champions League, FA Cup and the Premier League and will want to stay alive in the continental competition with a win on Tuesday.
Schalke gave a very good account of themselves against the Premier League champions, but their form since has been torrid to say the least. Domenico Tedesco’s side have lost all three of their subsequent fixtures in Bundesliga, with their latest match ending in a 4-2 hammering at the hands of Werder Bremen.
Having conceded as many as 11 goals in their last three matches, while scoring only twice, Schalke will have a huge task at their hands to overturn the first-leg deficit and cause an upset. But, having seen the likes of Ajax and Manchester United engineer epic comebacks last week, the German outfit will back themselves to put up a fight.
Team News & Tactics
The Cityzens will go into the game without the services of defender Nicolas Otamendi, who was sent off in the first leg and is suspended. Benjamin Mendy and Kevin De Bruyne remain sidelined for the home team along with Fernandinho, who would have anyway been suspended for the tie even if he was fit.
Club captain Vincent Kompany did not train on the eve of the game, but John Stones participated in the session and could be in line for a return to action.
There is no looking past Ederson in the Manchester City goal, while Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko are guaranteed starters in the full-back positions on the right and left sides respectively. Stones is likely to feature at the heart of the defence for Manchester City and should be partnered by Frenchman Aymeric Laporte.
Ilkay Gundogan will continue to operate in the holding midfield role for the Cityzens in the absence of Fernandinho. David Silva will carry the chief creative threat for the home side from the middle of the park, along with Bernardo Silva, who will start as the third central midfielder in De Bruyne’s absence.
Manchester City’s all-time highest goalscorer Sergio Aguero will spearhead the attack for Guardiola’s side. On the right flank, Raheem Sterling, who scored a hat-trick at the weekend, is a guaranteed starter, while former Schalke man Leroy Sane is likely to feature on the left side.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, David Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
Key man Daniel Caliguiri is ruled out of the all-important tie for Schalke with an ankle injury. He joins Alessandro Schopf on the treatment table. Midfielder Omar Mascarell is a doubt and will be assessed close to the game to determine his availability.
Schalke are once again likely to line up in the 5-4-1 formation that they used against City in the first leg last month. Captain Ralf Fahrmann is the undisputed starter between the sticks for the visitors. Seasoned campaigner Sascha Riether could step in at right-back in place of the injured Caliguiri and will have his task cut out against Leroy Sane.
On the opposite side, Bastian Oczipka will also have his hands full dealing with the threat posed by the dangerous Raheem Sterling. Jeffrey Bruma and former Manchester City player Matija Nastasic will line up at the heart of the defence along with Salif Sane, who did not start at the weekend.
Weston McKennie will slot in on the right side of the midfield four and look to help Riether in defence, while the young Hamza Mendyl will slot in on the left side. Suat Serdar will man the middle of the park, along with former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, who scored both the goals for Schalke in the first leg.
Breel Embolo, who found the back of the net twice against Werder Bremen at the weekend, could get the nod to lead the line ahead of Guido Burgstaller and Mark Uth.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Fahrmann; Riether, Bruma, Sane, Nastasic, Oczipka; McKennie, Serdar, Bentaleb, Mendyl; Embolo
- Of the previous 27 occasions of a side scoring 3+ goals away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie, all have gone on to progress, including six after winning 3-2.
- Manchester City have won each of their last three meetings with FC Schalke 04 in European competition, including a 5-1 win in the 1969-70 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final in their only previous home match against the German club.
- Schalke have only won one of their last nine Champions League matches in the knockout stages (D1 L7), although this was their last such away match at Real Madrid in the 2014-15 competition (4-3).
- Manchester City have lost both of their last two knockout matches in the Champions League at the Etihad Stadium, both 1-2 defeats to FC Basel in March 2018 and Liverpool in April 2018.
- Pep Guardiola has never lost to Schalke as a manager in seven previous clashes in all competitions, winning five and drawing two.
Player to Watch
The England international is playing the best football of his career this season and has been one of Manchester City’s main driving forces as they continue to compete on all fronts. In 38 matches across all competitions, Sterling has netted 18 goals and assisted 15 more already.
The 24-year-old will go into Tuesday’s game fresh on the back of a match-winning hat-trick against Watford in the Premier League on Saturday. Having scored the late winner for the Cityzens against Schalke last time out, Sterling will once again pose a serious threat to the German outfit, making him the player to keep an eye out for on Tuesday night.
Manchester City 2-0 Schalke 04
Manchester City put in quite an uncharacteristic performance in the first leg against Schalke, but managed to scrape an all-important win, that also saw them score three away goals. Since then, they haven’t been at their brilliant best but have shown the stomach to churn out results and head into the midweek game with nine wins in a row.
Schalke, on the other hand, having put up a great fight against the Premier League heavyweights last time out, have lost their three subsequent matches, during which they have let in as many as 11 goals. Domenico Tedesco’s side have lost five of their last six matches and haven’t won a game since January.
And that is why, unlike the first leg encounter, Tuesday’s game at the Etihad Stadium should be a cakewalk for Manchester City.