- Oli Coulson
Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – FC Copenhagen vs Manchester City Preview
Manchester City can seal their place in the Champions League knockouts with a win away to FC Copenhagen on Tuesday, 11th October, with kick-off at 5:45 pm (BST), live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.
Team News and Predicted XI
As far as team news is concerned, those absent are no surprise.
Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker remain out of action after surgery for both their respective shoulder and groin injuries. Fellow Yorkshireman John Stones is still joining them on the physio's table with his hamstring injury – however, Guardiola said at the time that he expected Stones to be back within 10 days to two weeks. That timeline elapses this week, but the 28-year-old did not travel to Denmark. Young full-back stars Rico Lewis and Josh Wilson-Esbrand have also travelled with the first team to Copenhagen.
Guardiola's pre-match press conference was dominated by questions about Erling Haaland, as is to be expected, and he was asked about the possibility of the superstar striker being rested tomorrow.
"We have to speak with the players and physios [to decide the lineup for tomorrow]."
As well as this, he spoke about City's defence and how the schedule has impacted preparation.
"In the last game, better. We can do better and I'm satisfied. We play three games in not many days [but] after Liverpool we have one week [rest]. We don't have much time to reflect... You do not have time to think about specific situations."
He went further on how the availability and fitness of his defenders have impacted his ability to be consistent with his back four, and with Aymeric Laporte only just returning, Stones and Nathan Ake both already having had injuries this season, and Walker out, it's no wonder that he rotates so much.
For the game, I'm guessing Joao Cancelo, Manuel Akanji and Laporte will make up three of the back four. As for the final slot, I'd be tempted to start Sergio Gomez, who has looked bright and effective this season, but Guardiola may err on the side of caution and play Ruben Dias, with Akanji at right-back and Cancelo at left-back like at the weekend.
Rodri picks himself and I'd guess that Gundogan and De Bruyne will start alongside him. As for the front three, it feels like a difficult choice. Going on the potential that Haaland is rested, Julian Alvarez will start up top. I'm guessing (and hoping!) he'll be flanked by Jack Grealish on the left and a first start of the season for Cole Palmer on the right, after some impressive cameos recently. I'd expect the use of all five substitutions too, and early, with Liverpool at Anfield on the horizon. Guardiola may even repeat what he did last week by starting Haaland, getting the game won and then making wholesale changes to rest his key men. However, I'm sticking by Alvarez to start up top. This week's game of Pep Roulette is a fun one, nonetheless.
Ederson; Cancelo, Akanji, Laporte, Gomez; Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Grealish, Alvarez, Palmer
Despite a 5-0 scoreline last week, FC Copenhagen's player of the match was undoubtedly goalkeeper Kamil Grabara, who put in multiple well-made and some acrobatic saves to stop City's forwards going for a record-breaking result.
Copenhagen's struggles this season are well-documented. Despite being reigning champions, they sit seventh out of 12 in the Danish Superliga, with only one win in their last five games in all competitions. They're winless in the Champions League and are contending with multiple major injuries to key players. New manager Jacob Neestrup has a huge challenge to salvage life out of the Danes' season, and a visit from the side he called the "best in the world" after last week's game won't make it any easier. Copenhagen look resigned to finishing fourth in the group after a damaging 3-0 loss to Dortmund and 0-0 to Sevilla before facing City unless they can achieve a potentially historic result in tomorrow's match. Guardiola spoke well of Copenhagen in his pre-match press conference, speaking about how City won't be underestimating them – and that if Copenhagen get a result, it will be because of their superior performance, not City underperforming.
"We're not going to underestimate them... no exception. If it doesn't go well, it'll not be because we don't play well. It'll be because Copenhagen play well."
After last week's 5-0 win at the Etihad, with goals from Haaland, Riyad Mahrez and Alvarez, City remain unbeaten against FC Copenhagen after their first meetings in the UEFA Cup in 2008.
Referee: Artur Dias
Assistants: Rui Tavares & Paulo Soares
Fourth Official: Fabio Verissimo
VAR: Tiago Martins
Assistant VAR: Benoit Milliot
Written by: @olicoulsxn
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