Manchester City will look to take an early lead in Group C of the UEFA Champions League when they host Dinamo Zagreb at Etihad on Tuesday.
Pep Guardiola has found it difficult to navigate this season domestically, mainly due to the injuries that have plagued his squad, his defence in particular. Still, the effect is yet to trickle down to midweek games so far, with City winning their first Champions League match, breezing through the tricky away test at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Dinamo Zagreb, on the other hand, surprised Atalanta with their clean and promising football. Dinamo are more experienced than the Serie A side in the premier European competition and it showed on the day as the home side completed a 4-0 rout of Atalanta.
The focus will now shift to England for Dinamo Zagreb, who would hope to shave some points off of the group favourites to strengthen their chances of qualifying for the knockout phase. City, on the other hand, will look to gain all three points to get into a comfortable position in Group C as quickly as possible.
Team News & Tactics
Aymeric Laporte and John Stones continue to be on the sidelines, which means we are more than likely to see Nicolas Otamendi being partnered by Fernandinho in central defence. Kyle Walker should be rested, with Joao Cancelo making his first Champions League start for Manchester City. Benjamin Mendy should start on the left.
Kevin De Bruyne is struggling to be match fit in time for the Dinamo Zagreb game and is unlikely to form a part of the matchday squad. In his absence, David Silva should step into the midfield, with Rodrigo and Bernardo Silva reprising their respective roles.
Sergio Aguero should be fit enough to start, especially after he was rested during the weekend, so to speak. Riyad Mahrez should continue to start in the absence of Leroy Sane, who is no nearer to be available for selection. Raheem Sterling is expected complete the lineup, with Ederson guarding the Manchester City goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; Bernardo Silva, Rodrigo, David Silva; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling
The Croatian giants have a clean bill of health, which will be a huge boost for Nenad Bjelica as he hopes to snatch a point or three away from Etihad. Ideally, there aren’t likely to be any changes to the starting eleven that thrashed Atalanta 4-0 at home on the opening matchday of the Champions League Group Stage.
Kevin Theophile-Catherine, Emil Dilaver and Dino Peric should provide support in defence to the Zagreb goal that is set to be guarded by Dominik Livakovic. In what will be a 3-4-3 setup, the midfield four picks itself, with Petar Stojanovic, Nikola Moro, Arijan Ademi and Marin Leovac all set to retain their positions.
Mislav Orsic was the hat-trick hero against Atalanta and will start on the right side of the three-man attacking line. Bruno Petkovic is likely to spearhead the Dinamo Zagreb attack against Manchester City. But, the focus will be on Dani Olmo, who will start on the left, to influence the proceedings and carve out opportunities for the away side.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Livakovic; Theophile-Catherine, Dilaver, Peric; Stojanovic, Moro, Ademi, Leovac; Orsic, Petkovic, Olmo
1. Manchester City have scored 17 goals in their last five Champions League matches.
2. Dinamo Zagreb have lost just two of their last 10 European away matches (W5 D3).
3. Dinamo Zagreb have failed to register a win in England so far on their six travels. (D1 L5).
4. Manchester City scored, on average, four goals in every home game in the 2018-19 Champions League campaign (20 goals in 5).
5. Mislav Orsic has five goals in his last four matches in all competitions.
Player to Watch
Dani Olmo has been on a continuous and steady upward trajectory since joining Dinamo Zagreb from Barcelona. The La Masia graduate has been linked with a return to Spain in the recent past and it’s mostly down to his prodigious form for the Croatian giants.
The creative head of the team, Olmo will have his task cut out against a Manchester City side that is like an injured lion right now. The central defensive pairing of Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi though, is one that Dinamo Zagreb will be looking to take advantage of. But, they will need Olmo to be on point at Etihad on Tuesday to be able to do that on a consistent basis.
A good performance against Manchester City could only mean more spotlight on the 21-year-old Spaniard.
Manchester City 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
We feel Dinamo Zagreb have it in them to trouble the star-studded hosts on Tuesday. Manchester City are a different beast on their day and proved it against Shakhtar Donetsk. But, Dinamo have shown they are a well-oiled machine as well and can give any of the top teams in Europe a run for their money.
It will be a battle of two attacks at Etihad on Tuesday, with neither defence likely to be able to stop the respective attacks from creating chances. We are going for a narrow win for Manchester City with a 2-1 scoreline. But, we expect more goals in this encounter.