Tottenham and Manchester City clash Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg, in what is the sixth all English Last Eight tie.
The UEFA Champions League is back, with just three more rounds left before the new champions are crowned in Madrid. Three English teams are on show on Tuesday, with Liverpool hosting FC Porto. And, the other fixture on the night will see Tottenham welcome Manchester City to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the quarter-final first leg.
Tottenham progressed to the Last Eight stage by easing past Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16 with an aggregate scoreline of 5-0. Manchester City too, outclassed a Bundesliga outfit, thrashing FC Schalke 04 10-2 over the two legs.
Spurs’ recent results though, do not provide a sense of optimism, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men managing to record just two wins in their last seven games across all competitions (D1 L4). But, Tottenham have had nearly a week to prepare for the visit of Manchester City, having inaugurated their new stadium with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace last Thursday.
Manchester City, on the other hand, come into Tuesday’s encounter high on spirits after reaching the FA Cup final by beating Brighton & Hove Albion, thereby keeping alive their hopes of the unprecedented quadruple. Their recent form has been strong to say the least, with Newcastle United the last side to beat Pep Guardiola & co. back in January.
The two sides will be locking horns in the UEFA Champions League for the first time, but Manchester City hold the edge on the head-to-head record this term, having beaten Tottenham 1-0 back in October. Ahead of the latest meeting between the clubs, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Mauricio Pochettino has just one pressing injury concern ahead of the visit of Manchester City, with Eric Dier out with a hip injury. Apart from Dier, Serge Aurier and Erik Lamela are unavailable due to their respective hamstring injuries, but Fernando Llorente is in contention for Tottenham.
Llorente though, will only be a backup option for Pochettino, with Harry Kane leading the line for Tottenham. Behind Kane, the Spurs boss is likely to deploy three attacking options once again as he is expected to stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation that brought him success against Crystal Palace.
The aforementioned three players should be Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min, with Alli playing in an advanced role after being deployed as a box-to-box midfielder last week. But, with Harry Winks fit and available, Alli can play in his preferred free role behind Kane.
Winks will combine with Moussa Sissoko in the middle of the park, with the two workhorses aiming to stifle the Manchester City supply line. At the back, there should be one change, with Danny Rose moving back into the left-back slot, and Ben Davies dropping down to the bench.
Meanwhile, part of the onus will also be on Hugo Lloris to curb his frustrating tendency of producing howlers in crunch games, while Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen will have to use all of their experience to ensure the hosts do not concede the advantage to City.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Sissoko, Winks; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane
Pep Guardiola has plenty of issues to deal with ahead of the trip to the capital to take on Tottenham. On Tuesday, the Manchester City manager will definitely be without the services of Claudio Bravo, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabian Delph.
In addition to the aforementioned trio, Guardiola is also sweating over the fitness of Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Sergio Aguero. Judging by Guardiola’s comments during his pre-match press conference, all three players should feature in some capacity.
But, Aguero might only be fit enough to make the bench, having trained for the first time on Monday since picking up his muscular problem ten days ago. In his stead, Gabriel Jesus should be the central striker against Tottenham for Manchester City.
Walker and Mendy though, should feature from the kick-off, retaining their places on either side of the Manchester City defence. The full-back pairing is likely to flank Aymeric Laporte and a well rested Vincent Kompany, while Ederson Moraes will continue in goal.
There is further good news, with Fernandinho fully fit after getting a week’s rest. The Brazilian should play the Anchor Man role in front of the defence, with Kevin de Bruyne a certain starter alongside him.
The third spot in the Manchester City midfield should be handed to Bernardo Silva, who will play in a withdrawn role in David Silva’s stead. With Bernardo Silva vacating a spot in attack, Leroy Sane should return, with Raheem Sterling moving out to the right flank.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, de Bruyne; Sterling, Jesus, Sane
- In what will be the 157th meeting between Tottenham and Manchester City, it will be the first ever occasion wherein the two sides will lock horns in the UEFA Champions League.
- Tottenham have not faced an English team in a European competition since April 1973, when they faced – and were eliminated by – Liverpool in the 1972-73 UEFA Cup semi-final.
- Manchester City have lost all four of their European matches against English opponents, losing both legs of the 1970-71 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final against Chelsea, while Liverpool outclassed them both home and away in last season’s Champions League quarter-final.
- Pep Guardiola has won 26 of his 52 Champions League knockout matches, just one behind the all-time record held jointly by Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti (27 wins).
- Tottenham striker Harry Kane has been involved in 17 goals in 17 Champions League appearances (14 goals, 3 assists).
Player to Watch
2018-19 has been a season to forget for Gabriel Jesus, with Sergio Aguero firmly being the first-choice striker for Manchester City. Aguero’s consistent performances over the course of the campaign have done Jesus no favour.
But, with the Argentine striker unlikely to start a third straight match, Jesus has the perfect fixture to make a lasting impression on Pep Guardiola in his bid to nail down the striker’s spot. The Tottenham defence has posed a vulnerable look lately, and the Brazilian will hope to make use of the gaping holes in the final third.
It is make or break time for Gabriel Jesus and Tuesday’s performance will go a long way in deciding how involved he will be in the run-in for the young striker.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester City
Purely judging by form, one cannot be blamed for claiming that Manchester City are the favourites to not just prevail over the two legs, but both home and away in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Tottenham. But, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this tie.
The UEFA Champions League is the only competition that Tottenham can win this season. And, with the game on Tuesday being the first European fixture in their new stadium, emotions are sure to be running high, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men being motivated to begin their European journey in their new home on a high.
With that said, the match should be a closely contested affair, with Sergio Aguero’s absence from the off setting City back. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 win on the night, with Pep Guardiola & co. holding the slightest of advantages ahead of next week’s second leg.