Manchester City face Celtic tonight at the Etihad Stadium in the final group stage clash, which ultimately means nothing on paper. However, that may not be the case for some players out there, who may well be given a chance on the big stage in Europe.
The lack of importance in this game for group standings means the tactics and choice of starting XI is going be difficult to be predict, especially considering Pep Guardiola loves to rotate, insisting he wants to give every player who deserves it a chance.
I feel the Spaniard will throw a few fringe players in there tonight along with some youngsters, giving them a taste of what it can mean to play in the Champions League.
Claudio Bravo has started every league game since joining City towards the start of the season and Willy Caballero’s time in between the sticks has been limited. Bravo has also been preferred for Champions League games, however it is likely the Argentinian shot stopper will be given the nod by Pep Guardiola tonight.
Defence is a tough one to pick, however I feel a few youngsters will be given the chance, giving some first-teamers a well earned rest. Maffeo impressed at Old Trafford when he got the chance so Pep may show faith in his abilities, whilst Tosin Adarabioyo may also be chosen, with Angeliño taking the left hand side. It’s likely there will be one first-team regular in the defence though in order to add some experience, that will come in the form of Nicolas Otamendi who is suspended for City’s trip to Leicester at the weekend.
We may see the return of Fabian Delph who has been out for some time with an injury after having surgery and I believe Fernando will join him in the centre of midfield. Unfortunately, Aleix García is ineligible. Of course Yaya Touré is unavailable for selection whilst Fernandinho is suspended after picking up a red card in Germany.
Pep Guardiola could then deploy the likes of Leroy Sané, Nolito and Jesús Navas in his attacking midfield in order to keep star players Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva fresh for Saturday. Raheem Sterling didn’t participate in training and is therefore ruled out with injury.
Up top is interesting – will he play Aguero, won’t he play Aguero? It was almost certain that Sergio Aguero would take no part in the game in order to maintain his fitness, however he is now suspended for four Premier League games and therefore won’t be able to play until New Years Eve. However, Pep may look towards Kelechi Iheanacho to lead the line in order to help him gain some match fitness ahead of potentially four straight games.
With all that in mind, here is how I think City will line up:
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