The beauty of the season truly kicking into full flow, with games occuring twice a week, is that whenever a poor result happens there is immediately a chance to rectify it. Such is the case for City on Tuesday as they will be looking to write the wrongs of their opening game defeat to Lyon. Hoffenheim will be no pushovers, they possess one of the best young managers in world football and he has the backing of a lesser known group of players and fans who are eager to make their mark in Europe. With that said, here’s who I think Pep will ask to get the job done…
Goalkeeper. Ederson. Sorted.
City are in need of a result and so rotation will be way down the priority list. Keeping that in mind, Kyle Walker should retain his spot at right back. John Stones and Aymeric Laporte should be tasked with holding the fort at the back. They are without a doubt our strongest pairing and more importantly they offer us much, much more with the ball than any other combination of centre-backs can. Unfortunately, both Benjamin Mendy and Delph are unavailable for this match and so Pep will have to turn to a less likely left-back for the trip to Germany. I think the most likely outcome will be that Danilo starts. I’m sure many would like to see Oleksandr Zinchenko continue to play due his strong performances in the last two outings and whilst there is a case for that I think the fact that Danilo was rested at the weekend points to him being the more likely to start.
At the base of the midfield will be Fernandinho. At the moment we have no other option for a game of this significance and his performances appear to be improving; hopefully that trend will continue on Tuesday night. Ahead of him I would expect to see Ilkay Gündogan and Bernardo Silva. Bernardo has been arguably City’s best performer this season behind Sterling and his influence is only continuing to grow when he features in a more central role. It was a close call between Gündogan and David Silva for the second spot but once again I point to who was rested at the weekend. Ilkay got the time off, so it’s likely he’ll be the one who gets the nod.
When it comes to forwards we have one player who is guaranteed a spot in the starting eleven and is probably the first name on the team sheet: Raheem Sterling. The twenty-three year old has been on another level this season and his performances have been improving week by week. Pep alluded to the fact that he seems more mature, more confident and that is a recipe for another stellar performance against Hoffenheim. With Jesus in such poor form at the moment, Sergio Agüero is a no brainer to lead the line. The Argentine’s link up play has never looked better and he looks razor sharp in front of goal. Leroy Sané should take the final spot in the team, given that he seems to have recovered from the poor form that plagued him at the start of the season.
On the bench Aro Muric should play back up to Ederson. Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany will take their places on their bench to provide defensive cover should the situation require it. In the same role Oleksandr Zinchenko will most likely be given a spot on the bench to provide cover for the full-back positions. David Silva should be named as a backup to come on and control the game or take it over if things aren’t going well. A case could be made for Phil Foden but I think seniority will win out. Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus are the usual suspects when it comes to cover for the forward positions, Tuesday should be no different.