Bayern Munich – Manchester City (Champions League)
The Allianz Arena will stage a night to remember this Tuesday. Both Bayern Munich and Manchester City already qualified to the Champions League last 16 but this won’t be a mere friendly. Who will win the Group D remains to be seen and will be decided there and then. And can City put an end to Bayern’s straight victories record in the Champions League?
Pep Guardiola’s squad are leaders of the Bundesliga, unbeaten so far and going on eleven wins in-a-row. Their last defeat happen in the DFL Super Cup against Borussia Dortmund (4-2) at the end of July. Just last Saturday they’ve netted 7 at the Weserstadion over Werder Bremen and conceded none. Franck Ribéry returned from a rib problem and appears to be back at his best. He scored twice and assisted Mandzukic for goal. He is performing at a Balón D’Or level, no doubt. On the previous Champions League matchday the Bavarians topped Barcelona’s record of the longest stretch of wins in the competition. They have 10 so far and are looking to push it a little further. Bayern is not a team to let up, they are focused and determined at every single game and they are in it to win. They know they’re playing for a place in history. But Guardiola has had some set-backs lately. He’ll be without German Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger until January. Arjen Robben will be out of the picture for six weeks with a serious knee injury. The Dutch suffered a nasty gash, right to the bone, in the game against Augsburg. The recovery time is keeping him out of the Club World Cup and won’t help his form for the World Cup. According to Pep Guardiola the good news is Philip Lahm is doing well in training and could make his return on Tuesday. Pizarro and Shaqiri are still questionable.
Probable line-up: Manuel Neuer – Rafinha, Van Buyten, Dante, David Alaba – Philipp Lahm – Muller, Kroos, Goetze, Ribbéry – Mandzukic.
Manchester City will be on the knock-out stage of the Champions League for the very first time. Done. Now they’ll face last season’s winners to decide who will be number one in Group D. Manuel Pellegrini admitted he would need to rest some of the players, particularly those whose legs have hardly been spared. Aguero, Touré, Nasri, Demichelis, Zabaleta and Pantilimon, for instance. Specially considering that they’ve again lost points away this Saturday at St. Mary’s and will be facing Premier League’s leaders Arsenal next weekend. The truth is the Citizens, as their opposition Bayern, have rosters that allow them to start at least two world top line-ups. Changing some key-players shouldn’t be dramatic. To win the group City are required to beat the German by a 3 goal difference, or two if they score 4 or more times. Highly unlikely if we look at Bayern’s demolishing performances. So, allow some to rest but play your best or risk an humiliation on the pitch.
Yaya Toure is suspended due to the third yellow card. Pellegrini is expecting to count on David Silva. The Spaniard missed five matches because of a calf injury.
Probable line-up: Joe Hart – Clichy, Joleon Lescott, Demichelis, Micah Richards – James Milner, Fernandinho, Javi Garcia, Jesus Navas – Dezeki, Negredo.
In October Bayern left the Etihad victorious (1-3). Ribéry scored the first, Muller and Robben followed. Negredo took his shot but was too late to turn things around. This is the worse time possible for Manchester City to return the favour. In December they’ll be playing twice every week, Arsenal and Liverpool on the schedule, and they are struggling to maintain a spot in the top four.