Venue: Celtic Park
Date: 28 September 2016
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli
Kick off: 19:45
City did it. On Saturday, the Blues secured their tenth consecutive win in all competitions this season; their sixth in the league. It wasn’t without difficulty though – the Swans played their part in an excellent game in South Wales.
Now it’s the turn of Celtic to try and derail Guardiola’s perfect start. Will Brendan Rodgers’ men have enough to challenge our attempt at win number 11? Let’s take a look at some of the talking points.
Former or Current Blues out to Hurt Us
There are a number of players in the Celtic ranks who have a strong link to City one way or another. The two most likely to play a part are Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts. The latter joined City from Fulham over a year ago, and since scored some excellent goals at youth level for City. Since joining Celtic on an 18 month loan, Roberts has become a key player for the Glasgow side and is something of a fan favourite thanks to his mesmeric dribbling ability. Due to Champions League eligibility rules, Roberts is allowed to play against his parent club – and one would think he will be keen to show Guardiola what he’s missing out on. In all honesty, the best case scenario is that Roberts plays 90 minutes, has a stormer but comes-out on the losing side. Then there’s Scott Sinclair – the former Swansea City man signed by Roberto Mancini in the summer of 2013. Unfortunately for Scott, things really didn’t work out as he spent most of his time on the bench or playing in the reserves. This will only do to motivate Sinclair though, who will be aiming to show City that he isn’t so bad after all.
A Vital Game
Don’t get me wrong, all of our games in the group stage will be essential to our chances of progressing out of the group, but this one really does feel like a must-win. On paper, Celtic are the weakest side in this group, a label that they only helped to reinforce as they were beaten 7-0 in the Nou Camp only a couple of weeks ago. With a very strong Barcelona side to contend with, and a Mönchengladbach team who have much more to offer than they exhibited in Manchester, City need to pick up 6 points against Celtic. In what is guaranteed to be a hostile environment against a side who are used to winning football matches, City can’t afford a sloppy 90 minutes. If we were to drop points in Glasgow, it opens the door for Mönchengladbach to fancy a pop at City in Germany. Whether or not you think the game on Wednesday is essential to City’s chances of qualifying, it is certainly important with regards to trying oust Barcelona to first place in the group. From previous experience, City know the importance of avoiding the top seeds in the round of 16, and win number 11 consecutively is needed in midweek if we are to have any chance of repeating last year’s feat of first spot.
Chinks in the Armour?
You could probably quite rightly argue that the Swansea game was City’s biggest test of the season so far. Only when the Blues went 2-1 up did we ever look particularly comfortable, and even then there were scares. It remains to be seen though, if a shaky first half at the Liberty Stadium was simply a slow and lethargic performance, or whether Swansea nailed the tactics and made it difficult. Like most sides, the pressed the ball fairly high, but it was often their clever use of possession that caused City problems. And with the big man up top, they found themselves on level terms with City shortly after Sergio Aguero had fired us into the lead. It should be said though, City could’ve scored 5 or 6 the other way, and had we been much more clinical with our final pass, it could’ve been a walk-over. I’d like to think that City had a bit of an off day on Saturday, where the killer ball often eluded us.
Who Can Hurt Us?
Moussa Dembélé, Celtic’s recent acquisition from Fulham has got off to a fast start in Scotland. With 10 goals in 15 appearances, Dembélé also bagged himself a hat-trick in the Old Firm Derby. Clearly a clinical finisher, City will need to be careful not to offer the young forward too many bites of the cherry.
I don’t want to sound too cocky, but on Saturday I called my third consecutive scoreline correctly. Hopefully that run isn’t coming to an end anytime soon, as I have City down to win again. I think the hostile environment will make things tricky at first, but I expect City to take control and ultimately win the game, 2-0.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-09-28″ default_css=”true”]