Manchester City will be aiming to extend their 100 per cent record in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League when they take on Olympiacos this midweek.
Manchester City will be looking to take a step towards sealing qualification for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League when they lock horns with Greek outfit Olympiacos at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s Cityzens might not have made the best of starts in the Premier League this term but they have been near-perfect in Europe, winning all of their Group C fixtures so far and sitting atop the standings. However, they are without a win in their last two fixtures in the Premier League, losing 2-0 to Tottenham in their latest game this past weekend.
Olympiacos, on the other hand, are currently third in Group C, having collected just three points from their three games, courtesy of a 1-0 win against Marseille on Matchday 1, since then falling to defeats against FC Porto and Manchester City. But they head into Wednesday’s game with momentum on their side having beaten OFI Crete and Panathinaikos in their last two fixtures.
The reverse fixture played at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month ended in a resounding 3-0 win for Manchester City with goals coming from Ferran Torres, Gabriel Jesus and Joao Cancelo. And ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Olympiacos will be without the services of veteran star Mathieu Valbuena when Manchester City come visiting, while the likes of Ruben Vinagre, Bruma and Jose Holebas are all doubts due to fitness issues. Youssef El-Arabi, Ahmed Hassan Mahgoub and Vasilis Sourlis tested positive for coronavirus and will miss the game.
Martins has a depleted squad at his disposal, so there are unlikely to be a whole lot of changes to the side that defeated Panathinaikos this past weekend. The hosts are likely to set up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of 27-year-old Portuguese goalkeeper Jose Sa on Wednesday.
Mohamed Drager should continue at right-back while former Bayern Munich defender Rafinha slots in on the opposite wing. The full-back duo will flank the centre-back partnership of Pape Abou Cisse and Ruben Semedo, who has been touted as a January target for Liverpool.
Yann M’Vila will hold the fort in the middle of the park and will be supported by Mady Camara and captain Andreas Bouchalakis as the trio looks to suffocate Manchester City’s creative outlets in Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden.
Finally, Konstantinos Fortounis, who scored the only goal of the game against Panathinaikos in the centre-forward slot. The 28-year-old will rely on wide players Lazar Randjelovic and Georgios Masouras to supply him with chances in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sa; Drager, Semedo, Cisse, Rafinha; Bouchalakis, M’Vila, Camara; Randjelovic, Fortounis, Masouras
Manchester City will once again be without the services of summer signing Nathan Ake. Fernandinho and Benjamin Mendy are fit again, although they might not be rushed back by the manager.
Guardiola is expected to make quite a few changes to the starting XI that started in the defeat to Tottenham this past weekend in the Premier League. No alteration is expected in goal, though, with Ederson Moraes the undisputed starter for the Cityzens.
Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo ought to continue as the two full-backs on the right and left sides respectively but there should be a change in central defence where John Stones gets a game in place of Ruben Dias alongside Aymeric Laporte.
There could be a couple of alterations in the centre of the park as well, with Ilkay Gundogan starting at the base of the midfield in place of Rodri, while Phil Foden, who made a substitute appearance against Tottenham, should also come into the side for Bernardo Silva. Kevin De Bruyne, though, is a certain starter in the middle of the park.
Sergio Aguero is back to fitness and made it to the bench against Tottenham at the weekend. This could be the ideal game for the Argentine to be eased back into action, with Gabriel Jesus making way. Ferran Torres, who has been the in-form man for City, should start on the right-wing, while Raheem Sterling should start on the left flank.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Gundogan, Foden; Torres, Aguero, Sterling
- This will be Manchester City’s first away game against a Greek opponent since February 2011, when they drew 0-0 with Aris in the UEFA Europa League.
- Olympiacos have won just one of their last eight games against English opposition in European competitions (D3 L4). That victory came against Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League earlier this year.
- Manchester City will be looking to win their first four group games in a UEFA Champions League campaign for the second time under Pep Guardiola, having done so in the 2017/18 season.
- Olympiacos have won both of their last two home games in the UEFA Champions League – one more than they had in their previous eight fixtures in the competition before that (D2 L5).
- Manchester City have scored nine goals in three games in the Champions League this season. Only Borussia Monchengladbach (10) have netted more than Guardiola’s side heading into Matchday four.
Player to Watch
Having made the move to Manchester City this past summer, the Spanish forward has settled in very quickly at his new club and has already become an important player for the Mancunians. So far in the season, Torres has featured 11 times in all competitions, scoring four goals and registering two assists as well.
The 20-year-old was on target in the reverse fixture against Olympiacos, which meant he has scored in each of his first three Champions League appearances for Manchester City. With that, he became the third-youngest player to score in four consecutive Champions League appearances behind Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
Torres has impressed with his versatility and his finishing skills, which could once again come in handy as the Cityzens look to make it four in four in Europe.
Olympiacos 0-2 Manchester City
Olympiacos come into the game on the back of two consecutive wins. However, there will be quite a step up in terms of level of opposition when they gear up to take on Manchester City this week. Pep Guardiola’s side haven’t been in the best of form domestically, but on the continental stages they have a 100 per cent record so far.
And, following the frustrating loss to Tottenham at the weekend, the players will be motivated to turn things around when they take the field in Piraeus. And thus, The Hard Tackle predicts the Cityzens to ease to another Champions League win over a depleted Olympiacos outfit and move closer to qualifying for the knockout stages.