Date: 23 November 2016
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
Kick off: 19:45
After Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp winner in the 2015/16 season, Manchester City return to Borussia-Park with the hope of qualifying for the next stage of the Champions League with one game to spare. City dismantled Gladbach in the reverse fixture, cruising to a 4-0 win thanks to a hat-trick from Sergio Aguero and a late goal from Kelechi Iheanacho. This game however, is unlikely to be quite as easy.
According to Sammy Lee of Goal, the only player to miss first-team training today was Vincent Kompany. Kompany sustained a head injury in Saturday’s win against Crystal Palace after a nasty collision with City’s keeper, Claudio Bravo. Thankfully it isn’t a recurrence of a muscle injury, otherwise Vincent’s future at the club would be in serious doubt, if it wasn’t already.
Bacary Sagna emerged unscathed from Saturday’s victory, after making his first appearance for seven games. Sagna completed the full ninety minutes, so is therefore unlikely to start on Wednesday night, with Pablo Zabaleta the more likely option.
John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan look set to return to the squad after missing the win against Crystal Palace because they were ‘very tired’. Pep decided to give both players a rest, but will be hoping that both will have an impact on Wednesday night.
One player who certainly won’t be in the squad is Yaya Touré, as despite his heroics on Saturday, he wasn’t named in the Champions League squad for the group stages.
Gladbach have a few injuries of their own, with Josep Drmic, Alvaro Dominguez, Mamadou Doucoere, Marvin Schulz and Patrick Hermann all expected to miss the game, while Julian Korb is suspended after his red card against Celtic.
Yann Sommer is an excellent goalkeeper, and if Gladbach are going to get anything from this game, they will need the Swiss stopper to be at his best.
Gladbach’s front three will also need to be at their best, but they certainly have the quality to punish City on the break. Raffael is a tricky Brazilian centre-forward, who scored at The Etihad last season. Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of Eden, has been excellent this season, and opened the scoring against Barcelona at Borussia-Park earlier this season. Lars Stindl will also be a danger man for Gladbach. He opened the scoring against the Blues at Borussia-Park in this fixture last season.
City’s key men need no introduction, and if Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, and Raheem Sterling are all on-form, City will take some stopping.
Pep’s history against Gladbach
September’s win against Borussia Mönchengladbach was Pep’s first in five meetings with the Bundesliga side. It’s fair to say that André Schubert’s men had become something of a bogey side for Guardiola’s Bayern after Die Fohlen picked up two wins and two draws in their most recent fixtures. Head-to-head records don’t mean a great deal of course, and that was shown at the Etihad two months ago, but the fact that Gladbach were so successful against Pep’s fantastic Bayern side shows that the Blues should be extremely wary of complacency on Wednesday night.
Gladbach sit 13th out of 18 in the Bundesliga table, an incredibly disappointing start for a team of such quality with European football aspirations.
City of course sit 3rd in the Premier League table, just one point behind the leaders – Chelsea.
I expect Gladbach to come out firing, but as long as City get the first goal, we should be okay. A lot will depend on how we deal with their tireless pressing, but if the return fixture is anything to go by, we shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
3-1 to City
Predict the score:
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