Manchester City will play their first game in a week as they return to the Champions League to take on Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, September 14 at 8 pm BST; the game will be broadcast live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.
It will be a reunion for Erling Haaland and Manuel Akanji, who will face off against their former side for the first time in their City careers.
"They know these players better than I know Dortmund players, that is for sure. They were there a few years. They can benefit. We will see tomorrow if it is an advantage. But also, they know the quality of the Dortmund players, too."
Guardiola confirmed that Aymeric Laporte is back training following his knee surgery over the summer, although is unlikely to feature in tomorrow’s squad, and that John Stones has returned and is fit to play. However, Kyle Walker’s ailment has left him out still.
"John [Stones] is training, Kyle [Walker] doesn't. John is fit and good. [Aymeric Laporte] I don't think so [squad for tomorrow], but we will see. It was his first training session but he looked good. Yesterday was partial, today was complete and he moved really well."
The cancellation of last weekend’s game against Tottenham will have further implications on an already congested group of fixtures. However, with City slated to play nine matches in October, many of which are against top sides, Guardiola outlined the struggle for his team to remain at full fitness and compete for the two biggest trophies.
"We want a team to win tomorrow. It is the World Cup and we have to be there in the Premier League. But in the Champions League, we have to qualify. We won the first game and in the Champions League at home, you have to be strong. We are lucky that we don't travel [in Europe with a Saturday 12:30 pm game next]... Most of them [players] are going to play both games."
With John Stones back to fitness, I expect him to slot back in at centre-back. With Kyle Walker not yet ready to return, it would make sense for Guardiola to once again call on Sergio Gomez to fill in at left-back so that Joao Cancelo can return to his natural right-back position.
The rest of the side fills itself out for the most part. The only real question is if Bernardo Silva or Ilkay Gundogan will get the start alongside Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne. Jack Grealish has started nearly every game while being fully fit, so expect him wide left alongside Haaland, with Phil Foden to his right.
Ederson, Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Gomez, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish, Haaland, Foden
League Position: 2nd
Top scorer: Haaland (10 League, 2 Europe)
Previous result: W 0-4 vs Sevilla (A)
After drawing two out of four games, City returned to their best in a dominant display against Sevilla last week. The defending champions got a longer than expected break after having this weekend’s game postponed and will likely be able to take advantage of the additional rest.
Sevilla were held to one shot on target all match after spending most of the first half backed into their own half. When the Spanish side were finally able to start to break through, they were far too exposed at the back and were thrashed by Foden and Haaland to close the game out.
League Position: 5th
Top scorer: Marco Reus (3)
Previous result: L 3-0 vs RB Leipzig (A)
It hasn’t been the best of starts for Borussia Dortmund so far this season. After departing with manager Marco Rose in the summer, the German club reassigned Edin Terzic, their caretaker manager two seasons ago, to managerial duties. Terzic served as their technical director this past season after being an assistant under Lucien Favre.
But a revolving door of managers hasn’t been their only issue.
Years of selling promising up-and-comers to the highest bidder have taken their toll on the squad, which appears to lack a core. The club has yet to find a true replacement for either Ousmane Dembele or Jadon Sancho and sold both Akanji and a certain Norwegian striker to the Premier League champions this past summer. Akanji was replaced by Nico Schlotterbeck from SC Freiburg and Niklas Sule arrived from Bayern Munich on a free. However, Matts Hummels remains the only other senior centre-back in the squad.
Last year the club brought in Donyell Malen from PSV to help reinforce the soon-to-be leaving Haaland. However, the Dutchman only scored nine goals in 38 appearances last season. Sebastien Haller was brought from Ajax to replace the aforementioned Haaland. However, a cancer diagnosis has sidelined the striker for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, the 28-year-old has already had the tumour removed and has started chemotherapy, and is well on the road to recovery.
With Haller now out, the goal-scoring responsibility falls on newly signed 20-year-old Karim Adeyemi and the highly touted 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko. It’s a lot to ask for two players still adapting to life in the Bundesliga.
Despite the array of issues at the club, during Terzic’s first stint as Dortmund manager, the German side nearly knocked the Blues out of the Champions League. However, he will now be asked to pick up a result with his former star striker lining up for the opposition.
Despite both teams being mainstays in European completion over the past decade, the two sides had only ever faced off against each other in two seasons. The most recent meeting was two seasons ago in the Champions League quarterfinals, where a pair of Foden goals narrowly pulled through in both games. Before that, the two sides met ten years ago in the group stage during the 2012/13 season.
Manchester City 4-1 Dortmund
After spending the last month proving his tax-free status to the heralded “Bundesliga tax” Haaland returns to face his old club, where he spent two and a half seasons wreaking havoc against high lines and exploiting space in behind. Currently, Dortmund have allowed the third most goals compared to other Bundesliga clubs in the top half of the table.
Defensively speaking, the club still appears to be a mess, and we have already seen what City and Haaland are capable of this season. I expect the Nord to bag another brace while Dortmund will grab a goal to keep the scoreline respectable.
Referee: Daniele Orsato
Assistants: Ciro Carbone, Alessandro Giallatini
VAR: Marco Di Bello
Assistant VAR: Paolo Valeri
Fourth Official: Luca Massimi
Written by: @IVIeehan
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