Manchester City will be aiming to extend their winning start to the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League, when they host Serie A outfit Atalanta on Tuesday.
Manchester City will be hoping to make it three wins in three matches in the UEFA Champions League when they welcome Italian side Atalanta to the Etihad for a Group C encounter this week.
Manchester City started their European campaign with a 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk before beating Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 to sit comfortably atop Group C. Pep Guardiola’s men recovered from their 2-0 defeat to Wolves in the Premier League before the international break by beating Crystal Palace 2-0 this past weekend and will hope to carry the momentum forward on Tuesday.
Atalanta, in their first-ever appearance in the Champions League, are rooted to the bottom of the group after losing both their matches, against Dinamo Zagreb (4-0) and Shakhtar Donetsk (2-1). La Dea have been in good nick in Serie A though, where they are third in the table, and will hope to translate that form into Europe and get their first points on board against Manchester City.
In what will be the first ever encounter between Manchester City and Atalanta, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester City have had a lot of problems with injuries in defence, but were boosted by the return of John Stones this past weekend. Nicolas Otamendi, who missed the Crystal Palace game with a knock, is also expected to be available, while Kyle Walker has also returned to training. Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain sidelined, though.
Guardiola is expected to make quite a number of changes to the side that started at the weekend, starting from the defence, where Stones and Otamendi are set to replace Fernandinho and Rodri. The former is likely to be rested, while the latter is expected to move into his natural position in the middle of the park.
Joao Cancelo should continue as the right-back ahead of the returning Walker, while Benjamin Mendy is likely to get another game at left-back ahead of Oleksandr Zinchenko. David Silva is expected to be given a breather on Tuesday night, with Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan occupying the midfield slots along with Rodri.
Riyad Mahrez has made some important contributions this season for Manchester City and is a strong possibility to start on the right flank against Atalanta. Raheem Sterling is sure to feature on the opposite side, while senior marksman Sergio Aguero is expected to replace Gabriel Jesus at the tip of the Cityzens’ attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling
Atalanta have been dealt a big blow as star striker Duvan Zapata, who has been in red-hot form this season, picked up an injury during the international break and is a major doubt for the trip to England. There are no other pressing injury concerns for manager Gian Piero Gasperini, who is unlikely to make a lot of changes to the side that played out a 3-3 draw against Lazio this past weekend.
There is no looking past Pierluigi Gollini between the sticks for La Dea. Rafael Toloi and Andrea Masiello have been ever-present figures in the three-man backline and are expected to start at the Etihad. There could be one change though, with Berat Djimsiti likely to come into the side in place of Jose Luis Palomino.
Hans Hateboer and Ruben Gosens ought to be the two wing-backs on the right and left sides respectively. Netherlands international Marten de Roon is pressing for a start in the middle of the park, but the manager is likely to stick with the duo of Remo Freuler and on-loan Chelsea midfielder Mario Pasalic.
Summer signing Ruslan Malinovskyi is expected to continue as one of the two attacking midfielders for Atalanta alongside star man Alejandro Papu Gomez, who was on the scoresheet against Lazio at the weekend. With Zapata likely to miss out, Luis Muriel, who netted twice in the weekend clash, is once again set to lead the line for the visitors.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gollini; Toloi, Djimsiti, Masiello; Hateboer, Freuler, Pasalic, Gosens; Malinovskyi, Gomez; Muriel
- This will be the first ever meeting between Manchester City and Atalanta. The Cityzens have faced four different clubs from Italy in UEFA European competitions, namely Juventus, AC Milan, AS Roma and Napoli and have picked up at least one win against each of the four clubs.
- Atalanta’s previous European meetings with English opponents were in the 2017-18 Europa League group stages, where they won both their games against Everton, including a 5-1 hammering at Goodison Park.
- Manchester City have won their opening two UEFA Champions League group stage matches this season; on the previous 27 occasions English sides have done so, they have all gone on to progress to the next round.
- Atalanta are the first Italian side to lose their first two UEFA Champions League matches; the last team to lose their opening three in the competition was Otelul Galati of Romania in 2011-12, who lost all six of their group stage games that season.
- Manchester City have only faced eight shots in their two UEFA Champions League matches so far this campaign, seven fewer than any other team.
Player to Watch
The England international has transformed into one of the most influential attackers under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola over the past couple of years. After a sensational 2018-19 campaign, Raheem Sterling has started the new season on a strong note as well, already netting 9 goals and setting up two more in 12 matches in all competitions.
In fact, since his Champions League debut for Manchester City in 2015, Sterling has been directly involved in 24 goals in the competition (15 goals, 9 assists), more than any other English player in that time. Having failed to score a goal in his last two appearances in the league, the 24-year-old will be keen on finding the back of the net on Tuesday and fire his team to a win.
Manchester City 3-1 Atalanta
Manchester City have had a couple of shock defeats in the Premier League, but haven’t missed a beat in their first two matches in Europe. Atalanta, on the other hand, have been in good form in Serie A, but are struggling to translate that onto the continental stage.
Two defeats in two matches does not make for a pretty reading for the Italians and going up against Pep Guardiola’s side will be a step-up in terms of the quality of opposition they have faced so far in the Champions League.
While City’s defensive problems might allow Atalanta to get a goal at the Etihad, it is unlikely that they will be able to get a win over the English champions. We at The Hard Tackle are predicting a 3-1 triumph for Manchester City that will keep their winning start in this season’s Champions League intact.