Manchester City host Marseille at the Etihad Stadium as they look to return to winning ways in the Champions League and end the group stage on a high.
The UEFA Champions League returns to catch the eye of football supporters from all over the world this week for the final games of the Group Stage.
Manchester City take on Marseille at the Etihad on a one-way important fixture on Wednesday. While Manchester City sit on top of the group with a guaranteed first spot, Marseille have to win this game and hope for an Olympiacos loss to confirm their place in the UEFA Europa League. While City will look to provide rest to some of their key players, Marseille will have to be at their best to keep their European hopes alive.
Manchester City sit in 7th place in the Premier League currently. Despite a slow start to the domestic season, they have shown a lot of character in Europe. Currently unbeaten in the Champions League, they have conceded the joint-least goals this season with just Porto’s Luiz Diaz finding the net against them in the first gameweek.
On the other hand, Marseille sit 4th in Ligue 1 with 24 points from 11 games. Having had a partial positive start to their domestic season, Marseille have failed to replicate that form in Europe. Andre Villas-Boas’ men have had an underwhelming start to their first Champions League since the 2013-14 campaign having opened their account for the season just last week against Olympiacos.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester City hold only one injury concern in the form of Sergio Aguero, who’ll most likely be sidelined for this game ahead of the Manchester Derby, having already missed the Fulham game the previous weekend.
With Pep Guardiola hinting towards some rotation in the squad, the likes of Fernandinho, Eric Garcia, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden are likely to start. Manchester City are expected to play in a 4-2-3-1 with Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan in the midfield pivot while Foden slots in as the No.10.
Having kept a fourth successive clean sheet in routine against Fulham the previous weekend, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne stood out as the star performers, but are expected to be rested midweek for the Manchester Derby on the weekend.
Gabriel Jesus is expected to start while Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko, both, return to the starting eleven for a game that the Citizens are expected to cruise through. Several youngsters are also expected to be involved from the bench and get some minutes too.
— Man City Xtra (@City_Xtra) December 8, 2020
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson, Cancelo, Garcia, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Gundogan; B.Silva, Foden, Torres; Jesus
Marseille opened their Champions League account last week with a couple of penalties dispatched by Dimitri Payet from the spot. It will be interesting to see whether the manager will play a back-5 like the reverse fixture or trust his men and go into the game with just a back-four.
Despite their poor form in Europe, goals from Dario Benedetto and Valerie German propelled Marseille to their fifth successive domestic victory on the bounce. They will once again be looking at the former to produce the goods in front of the goal against Man City. A lot will also be riding on how Florian Thauvin fares in the final third of the pitch.
Andre Villas-Boas holds an almost clean bill of health with just Serbian forward, Nemanja Radonjic, sidelined due to a thigh injury. Leonardo Balerdi is available now, having been suspended for the Olympiacos game. Alvaro Gonzalez and Duje Caleta-Car could have a major role to play in Marseille’s defensive setup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mandanda; Amavi, Gonzalez, Caleta-Car, Sakai; Kamara, Cuisance, Rongier; Henrique, Thauvin; Benedetto
- Manchester City and Marseille had their first-ever European meeting back in October when the French team welcomed Manchester City to the Orange Velodrome. With goals from Ferran Torres, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling, the English giants sailed through to a win.
- Marseille have only won 1 of their previous 12 away games to a Premier League side (D4 L7) with the last win coming in 2007 versus Liverpool.
- Since Pep Guardiola has taken over at Manchester City, a third of his losses in the UEFA Champions League have come at the hands of French teams (3/9). In six games against French opposition, Guardiola’s City have lost three times (W2 D1).
- Manchester City have only conceded one goal in the UCL Group stage so far, which is the lowest in the league. The last English team to finish the group stage with just one goal against was Manchester United in 2010-11.
- Dimitri Payet has scored both of Marseille’s goals in the UCL this season. The last player to score 100% of their team’s goals was Barukh Dego for Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2004-05, scoring all four goals.
Player to Watch
The young English starlet started the season very brightly. Many tipped him to fill David Silva’s shoes this season but that still remains a gaping hole in City’s squad. Foden will be hoping to regain his touch and earn a string of starts.
The busy period of December will certainly provide him with that and it is the perfect time for the England international to gain form. Playing in much more advanced positions than usual, Foden can be expected to be at the end of a goal or an assist versus a Marseille side that just can’t get things to go their way this season.
Manchester City 2-0 Marseille
Manchester City will go into this game with just the mindset of giving their non-regular players game time and ending the group stage on a high. Meanwhile, Marseille have to win it to keep their European hopes alive.
Man City seemed to have found their mojo back in recent weeks, and the task does seem uphill for the French outfit. It’s going to be a good watching seeing Villas-Boas and co. against the English giants as they hope to cause an upset. However, the hosts should prevail on the night and ease to a rather straightforward victory.