- Tom Kilmartin
Preview: Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Bayern Munich
Manchester City will host the first leg of their highly anticipated Champions League quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich on Tuesday. Pep Guardiola returns once more to push the great boulder that is City in Europe, perhaps things will be different this time as the Blues face their first proper continental test of the season. The game will kick off at the Etihad at 7:45 pm (BST) on Tuesday and will be shown live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.
Only Phil Foden is side-lined with injury, his recovery has begun but he’s not expected back until late April. The squad is otherwise fully fit, though Manuel Akanji is a booking away from a one-game suspension.
Guardiola’s team has finally found some consistency in the last weeks. City’s eight-game win streak has seen little deviation in the starting XI. A winning formula hasn’t stopped Guardiola from tinkering in the past; he may indeed opt for a few tactical changes.
Guardiola’s key decision to make will be in the defence, John Stones has surprised many with his proficiency in the inverted fullback role, but there may be a case for a change in the system. Kyle Walker, though missing game time, could be preferred against Bayern. Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman have been Bayern’s attacking access points under Tuchel, shutting these down would be of huge advantage to City. It will come down to whether Guardiola feels the game control of Stones will be more important than the security of Walker.
Rodri will certainly maintain his spot in the defensive midfield. He’ll likely be joined by captain Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne. They’ve cemented themselves as the clear first-choice midfield for the rest of the season. The attack is also fairly predictable; Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish will start. Whether Riyad Mahrez will join them is more debatable, he struggled against Southampton at the weekend, but there is no obvious candidate to replace him, and he has an impressive record in the latter stages of the competition.
Ederson; Stones, Akanji, Dias, Ake; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Grealish, Haaland, Mahrez
It’s been a chaotic few weeks in Munich. The sacking of Julian Nagelsmann came as a shock, though the combination of Thomas Tuchel’s withering availability and a general feeling that the squad wasn’t being optimised has offered some explanation.
Tuchel’s appointment makes the tactical battle all the more interesting. Guardiola referred to him in a press conference as possibly “the best manager”. Tuchel, too, has spoken too of how Pep’s Barcelona team of the past were formative in his understanding of football; the respect between the two managers is clear to see.
Tuchel has proved to be a worthy adversary of Guardiola during his time managing Chelsea. Their head-to-head has seen mixed results (3-1-6 in favour of Guardiola). The defining game of their rivalry was the Champions League final of 2021, where Tuchel’s Chelsea staved off the unorthodoxy of Guardiola’s tactics. City fans will nonetheless be optimistic; the Catalan has seemingly had the edge over Tuchel in the games since.
Despite Tuchel’s indelible track record, the beginning of his Munich tenure hasn’t been straightforward. They have regained the edge in the title race, beating their rivals in Der Klassiker. But the Bavarians suffered a shock exit to SC Freiburg in the DFB Pokal and have shown a lack of attacking threat in the game since.
Another interesting point to note is that City loanee Joao Cancelo will be available for Tuchel. He played in the inverted fullback role in Bayern’s last game, a position he mastered under Guardiola. His creativity could be helpful in a Bayern team that will struggle in the midfield battle; equally, it’s a game where Bayern will likely spend long periods off the ball, Cancelo’s defensive frailty could be a target of City wingers for this reason.
Played: 10 Won: 5 Drawn: 0 Lost: 5
The last time the teams met in the Champions League was a memorable highlight for City fans. The game was a mismatch, European giants against European novices. Bayern, perhaps in their prime year under the management of Guardiola, had recovered after Sergio Aguero struck home a penalty early on. They went into half-time a goal to the good against Pellegrini’s men.
City were knocking throughout the second half, but Bayern had the game under control. That was until Aguero scored in the 85th minute. Both sides seemed to settle for a draw. Out of this calm
came, once again, Aguero to capitalise on a late defensive mistake; he finished calmly
against Manuel Neuer and announced the Blues to Europe in the club’s typical fashion.
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano Assistants: Diego Barbero & Angel Nevado Fourth Official: Jose Luis Munuera VAR: Juan Martinez Munuera Assistant VAR: Alejandro Hernandez
Written by: @TomKilm04
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