Tomorrow’s encounter at the Etihad stadium will prove to be one of Manchester City’s most important in its recent history, needing a win against an already-through Bayern Munich side as winners of Group A. Eyes in Manchester will also been on the Villarreal-Napoli tie where a Napoli win would eliminate the Citizens from the competition; otherwise, their Champions League adventure will be over with the Europa League beckoning.
On the previous matchday, Bayern eased past a sinking Villarreal side on the back of a Franck Ribery brace and yet another goal by German international Mario Gomez, ending in a 3-1 victory for the Bavarians, all while sealing top spot. Manchester City, on the other hand, lost 2-1 to Napoli away at the San Paolo, causing their European fate to fall out of their hands. City have been fairly erratic during their maiden voyage in the Champions League, completing the sweep against Villarreal but losing to Bayern and Napoli twice, with the only draw coming against the Partenopei in their opening fixture. Bayern, meanwhile, are unbeaten so far in the competition, taking care of Zurich home and away in the play-in tie while rattling off four wins and a single draw in the group stage.
The lead up to this game has some added spice, as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge continued to hit out at Manchester City in the past few days, claiming that he hopes that Napoli go through at the expense of the Blues, leading Roberto Mancini to call him out during the pregame press conference, stating,
“I don’t understand Rummenigge’s behaviour against Manchester City. This has been six months now that he talks against us because of financial fair play. He also says that he hopes Napoli get through to the second stage. I don’t know what his problem is with us.” (guardian.co.uk)
In terms of squad news, Bayern will be without the services of both Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos due to the flu, as well as the still-injured midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. This shouldn’t be too troubling for Bayern as they are already through to the knockout stage and are guaranteed top spot in the group; for City, however, it is a huge break considering the form of Kroos and Robben’s recent return to the starting XI. City are still missing Aleksandar Kolarov through injury and could potentially be without Micah Richards as well. The good news for City is that all their forwards are available, notwithstanding the disgruntled and disenchanted Carlos Tevez, who is all but leaving Manchester at this point. Look out for the fantastic David Silva, who City will rely upon as their creative spark in the final third.
So what can be expected from the match? City are playing for their Champions League lives, so look for them to play with more urgency than they did against Napoli two weeks ago. Mancini will have some extra motivation given the recent baying by Rummenigge over City and their finances, which will certainly be used as bulletin board material in the locker room. Bayern, on the other hand, have nothing to play for, but as captain Philipp Lahm mentioned in the buildup, “we will do everything to ensure that we come home with the points. We are athletes and want to win every game.”
Today’s Probable Starting XI:
Manchester City (4-3-3): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Toure, Barry, Silva; Nasri, Aguero, Balotelli
Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Badstuber, Boateng, Lahm; Tymoshchuk, Gustavo; Mueller, Alaba, Ribery; Gomez