The games are coming thick and fast for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and after Saturday’s fantastic win in the Manchester derby, The Blues will welcome Borussia Mönchengladbach to The Etihad tonight, as they hope to kick off their Champions League campaign with a win – and we mean actually kick off this time, after the encounter was postponed last night due to adverse weather conditions.
City met ‘Gladbach in the group stages of last year’s competition and came away with two wins from two, although both games required a spirited turnaround from Manuel Pellegrini’s side. For all of Pep Guardiola’s success in the Bundesliga over the past three years, ‘Gladbach have proved to be something of a bogey team for the Spaniard. In fact, ‘Gladbach are currently unbeaten in their last four games against Guardiola.
André Schubert’s side will most likely look to play on the counter, allowing City to dominate the ball in the process. Schubert will be without key player Patrick Herrmann, who tore an adductor muscle in their Bundesliga defeat to Freiburg.
Pep Guardiola stated in his pre-match press conference that Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany are ‘almost ready’ to play, but it seems very unlikely that either will be risked from the start, or even at all tomorrow. Gundogan may have a chance of taking his place on the Manchester City bench for the first time, after Fabian Delph and Fernando missed today’s training session. With Aleix Garcia and Yaya Touré ineligible, Guardiola is running low on central midfield options for tomorrow’s game.
Guardiola also revealed that Sergio Aguero is fully fit after his thigh discomfort sustained in the 3-1 victory over West Ham. With Aguero’s suspension for violent conduct only counting in domestic games, it would be a major surprise if he weren’t to lead the line tomorrow evening.
Claudio Bravo should retain his place in goal despite his error at Old Trafford, as he looks to adapt to his new surroundings, while the impressive defensive partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones is likely to remain unchanged.
As mentioned earlier, City are running low on central midfielders and whilst Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho could all do with a rest after their heroics on Saturday, it is likely that all three will start from the off.
Bacary Sagna and Aleksandar Kolarov both put in solid shifts from full-back on Saturday, with the latter having his tooth knocked out for his troubles. City are well stocked in this department, and the expectation is that both will be rotated, with Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy coming in to replace them.
Finally, the position most up for debate is that of the wingers, with Raheem Sterling, Nolito, Leroy Sané and Jesus Navas all fighting for two spots. Borussia Mönchengladbach typically play with a high line, which would seem to favour the pace of Sterling and Sané. Neither were particularly great against United, but Sterling being hooked on the hour mark will mean that he is fresher than Nolito, who played the full 90 minutes. Meanwhile, Guardiola opted to bring on Sané ahead of Navas on Saturday, and will be eager to bring the German up to full fitness and speed.
So here it is, my predicted XI and substitutes:
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