Manchester City travel to Marseille to make it two wins out of two in the Champions League while the hosts look to cause an upset and register their first points of the season.

Marseille have had a good start to their domestic campaign – placed fourth in Ligue 1, having lost just one match after their first eight outings. Their onset in the UEFA Champions League, though, has been slow after losing narrowly to Olympiacos last week.

Manchester City have been largely inconsistent this year, something that is very uncharacteristic of them, especially under Pep Guardiola. Currently 13th in the league with just 2 wins in 5 games, City would like to look past their poor domestic form and make it two wins in two in the Champions League.

The Champions League is definitely the one trophy Manchester City have had their eyes on this season and would like to win it in what could be Guardiola’s last chance at the Etihad. Andre Villas-Boas would be hoping that his side can be a thorn in City’s journey to success.

Team News & Tactics

Marseille

Marseille’s first appearance in the Champions League since the 2013/14 season got off to a rocky start as they lost away to Olympiacos. They followed the loss with a 1-0 victory on the weekend versus Lorient in Ligue 1 and would like to take confidence from the clean sheet.

Andre Villas-Boas hinted in his pre-match press conference that after Leonardo Balerdi, on loan from Borussia Dortmund, gave a convincing performance on the weekend, Marseille could play with five at the back.

This setup would make sense keeping the opposition in mind as well. Manchester City have lacked the firepower to score goals in recent games, and playing with five-man defensive unit could enable Marseille to cause problems for their visitors. This setup will include Balerdi, Alvaro Gonzalez and Duje Caleta-Car as the centre-backs, while Jordan Amavi and Hiroki Sakai will be the wing-backs.

Dimitri Payet, who did not play on the weekend due to suspension, will definitely start, while Dario Benedetto, who has looked promising, would like to break his duck and get his first goal of the season. The onus will also be on Florian Thauvin to produce the goods in the final third.

Luckily for the French outfit, there are no notable absentees and Villas-Boas has immense flexibility in deciding the way he wants to set his team up. It will, therefore, be interesting to see whether Marseille come into the game with a positive approach or look to see it off.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Mandanda; Gonzalez, Caleta-Car, Balerdi; Sakai, Rongier, Sanson, Amavi; Thauvin, Payet; Benedetto

Manchester City

Manchester City would look to make it two wins in two in the Champions League. They have struggled with injuries since the start of the season, and it has been a rather slow start to the season. Both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are unavailable for the near future, with the duo likely to only return during or after the international break next month.

It will be interesting to see how Pep Guardiola uses Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden, and how much trust he places in youngster Liam Delap. Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake have just returned from injury and have travelled with the squad to Marseille.

However, it is unlikely that either of them would feature from the start, meaning Ruben Dias and Eric Garcia, who continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona, will pair up at the heart of the Manchester City defence. Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko could be the two full-backs.

Kevin De Bruyne made an appearance from the bench in City’s 1-1 draw versus West Ham United, and looks set to start against Marseille. Foden should start after his lively performance on the weekend while Ferran Torres is likely to replace Riyad Mahrez on the right, with Sterling leading the line for Manchester City.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Garcia, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Torres, Sterling, Foden

Key Stats

  • Manchester City will meet Marseille for the first time in European competition.
  • Manchester City have lost just one of their last 10 away games in the UEFA Champions League group stage (W6 D3), going unbeaten in each of their last six such fixtures (W4 D2).
  • Marseille’s Dimitri Payet is still looking for his first goal in the UEFA Champions League, having attempted 32 shots without scoring in the competition.
  • Marseille have lost their last four home games in a row in the Champions League, conceding exactly two goals in each defeat. The last team to lose five in a row at home were another Ligue 1 side, AS Monaco in 2018
  • Manchester City have now scored and conceded in their previous 8 matches. This is their longest wait for a clean sheet in the Champions League since the 2015/16 season.

Player to Watch

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling has been Manchester City’s talisman this season. He has 4 goals and 3 assists in 8 matches in all competitions, and City would have struggled way more than they already have were it not for his contributions to the team.

Sterling’s Champions League record is pretty convincing too. Since Guardiola took charge of Manchester City in 2016, Sterling has been directly involved in more goals than any other player at the club, scoring 17 goals and recording 9 assists.

With Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero both out injured, Sterling could play the False Nine role and lead the attack. Either way, Sterling will occupy a much more advanced role and surely have an influence on the game. The English international will be key in City’s attempt to unlock a stubborn Marseille defence, who might play with five at the back.

Prediction

Marseille 0-2 Manchester City

Manchester City lack the ammunition to score goals by the bucketload in a game at the moment. And with Marseille, who have been defensively strong this season, looking to play with an extra man at the back, it could be difficult for the visitors to score many goals.

However, with the return of Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City could use his creative abilities to convert a couple of goals and return from Marseille with a comfortable 3 points. The Hard Tackle, therefore, predicts a 2-0 win for Pep Guardiola & co.

Leave A Comment...

*