Can City banish European demons and reach CL semi-finals? Dortmund (1) v (2) Manchester City Preview
Manchester City must banish the woes of the past when they confront their Champions League demons at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night. Pep Guardiola's side holds a narrow lead over injury-hit Borussia Dortmund but history has taught that the blues never make it straight-forward for themselves when it comes to European competition. Can City finally end years of pain under Guardiola or will it be the same old story on another European night to forget?
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Assistants: Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez, Roberto Alonso Fernández
Fourth official: José María Sánchez Martínez
VAR: Juan Martínez Munuera Assistant
VAR: Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea
Venue: Signal Iduna Park (GER)
TV (UK): BT Sport
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Signal Iduna Park, Germany, where tomorrow's showdown will take place.
The opposition: Borussia Dortmund
League position: 5th
Form (Bundesliga): WLDWL
Last fixture: VfB Stuttgart 2-3 Borussia Dortmund (Bellingham, Reus, Knauff)
Top scorer: Erling Haaland (33)
Last time out at the Etihad, Dortmund showcased to City how tough of an opponent they can be on a given night. The Black and Yellow stifled City's attacking threat for large parts of the contest and would've felt aggrieved to not have come away with more than one away goal, as Jude Bellingham's clean dispossession of Ederson led to a tap-in to an empty net, only for the referee to blow his whistle before the ball had crossed the line.
Erling Haaland hadn't scored in his last four games, including internationals, before facing City and he couldn't beat Ederson either at the Etihad but his assist for Reus' leveller looked to have earned his side a draw on the night, only until Kevin De Bruyne's delightful ball found Gundogan, who laid off for Phil Foden to smash in to give City the edge heading into this one. Dortmund have lost six of their seven European ties where they have been behind heading into the second leg, which won't fill their fans with confidence heading into the return game.
Erling Haaland is yet to score since the resumption of club football following the international break but has scored at least once against every opponent he has faced in the Champions League this season.
Jadon Sancho (thigh) - OUT
Mats Hummels (knock) - hopeful
Marco Reus (knock) - hopeful
Axel Witsel (knee) - OUT
Dan-Axel Zagadou - OUT
Marcel Schmelzer - OUT
Jadon Sancho is set to miss the game with a thigh injury despite returning to individual on-field training this week. Edin Terzic had initially hoped that the winger may have recovered in time but Jadon is still far off from a return to action, meaning that Ansgar Knauff could be set to retain his place in the starting XI ahead of Gio Reyna and Thorgan Hazard.
Mats Hummels and Marco Reus were both forced off through suspected 'injury' vs Stuttgart but the pair seem to have made a convenient recovery in time to face City, with their boss hopeful that the pair will be available when the sides go head-to-head. Zagadou and Witsel both remain long-term absentees, as does Marcel Schmelzer, but Raphael Guerreiro is fully fit again and is likely to start, with Thomas Meunier also coming back into the side.
Predicted XI: Hitz; Meunier, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Can, Bellingham, Dahoud; Knauff, Haaland, Reus
The blues: Manchester City
City's loss to Leeds came as a shock to many but with key players fully rested ahead of this crunch tie with Dortmund, that one loss isn't expected to become a trend. City, along with West Ham, are the only sides to have not lost back-to-back games this season, and if City avoid defeat at Signal Iduna Park they'll be into the Champions League final four for the first time in five seasons. City have only lost two of their fifteen European ties after leading after the first leg, most recently the 5-3 lead they had over Monaco in 16/17 that evaporated in a 3-1 second-leg defeat.
In Europe this season, City are yet to lose. Before conceding vs Dortmund last week the blues had kept seven successive clean sheets in the Champions League and looked firm favourites to win the competition, but after a tough win in the first leg, nobody is taking this tie for granted. City will have to be at the top of their game and will need a clinical edge to their play if they're to make it through to face either Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich in the last four.
Kevin De Bruyne will have to be on his best form if City are to progress.
Sergio Aguero (leg) - OUT
Other than the absence of Sergio Aguero, Pep Guardiola has a fully-fit City squad at his disposal for this fixture. The rotations made at the weekend give enough hints as to who starts this one, with Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Rodri, Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and Ilkay Gundogan all rested. Those expected to drop out are Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and several others as Guardiola will likely operate with a false-nine, just as he did in the reverse fixture a week ago.
Official 22-man travelling squad: Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Nathan Ake, Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Zack Steffen, Aymeric Laporte, Rodrigo, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Ferran Torres, Benjamin Mendy, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez, Joao Cancelo, Ederson, Phil Foden, Eric Garcia and James Trafford.
Predicted XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo, Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden (4-3-3)
Our graphic doesn't account for the additional substitutes that are added in the Champions League - likely being James Trafford and Eric Garcia.
The question that everyone is thinking is: Can City finally make the Champions League semi-finals?
The previous history under Pep Guardiola has brought nothing but heartbreak at this stage of the competition however with that goal from Phil Foden to secure a victory, coupled with City's defensive solidarity and bounce-back ability this season after being beat, all the omens seem to suggest that this year will be when City finally break their quarter-final curse. If they are to do it, Kevin De Bruyne will be a huge part of it just like he was in 2015/16. Let's hope that if we do make it to the semi-finals, this year we can go all the way.