In one of the most eye-catching ties of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, Manchester City host Bayern Munich for the first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
The UEFA Champions League is back with a bang, as Manchester City and Bayern Munich lock horns in one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the season on Tuesday in what could be a classic Champions League night filled with plenty of drama and entertainment.
It’s set to be an engrossing clash between the domestic champions of Germany and England, which is set to attract the most eyeballs this midweek.
Manchester City are certainly hitting their best form at just the right time of the season. They made it eight wins in a row in all competitions with a 4-1 thrashing of Southampton on Saturday. And the defending English champions will hope to carry over that form to the Champions League on Tuesday as they seek to avenge their 1-0 Champions League final defeat to Thomas Tuchel in 2021.
Ever since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City have had their sights set on Champions League success. And this year seems set to be another in which they compete hard for Europe’s top prize.
While Manchester City are currently trailing Arsenal in the Premier League, everyone in the blue half of Manchester would prefer the Cityzens to lift the Champions League, which has somehow managed to elude Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut. Can they take a first-leg advantage against one of their main rivals for the trophy?
Bayern Munich also won at the weekend. And while their 1-0 victory at Freiburg was nothing much to write home about, it was vital as they bounced back after being knocked out of the DFB-Pokal by the same opponent, as well as cemented their lead at the top of the Bundesliga.
For once, Bayern’s supremacy in the Bundesliga came into question this season when Borussia Dortmund dethroned them from the top spot a few weeks ago. However, the Bavarians then acted quickly to fire Julian Nagelsmann and replaced him with former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, who led them to a huge 4-2 win over his former club, Dortmund, to get them back on track to defend their domestic crown.
While many teams see a trip to the Etihad as a frightening journey, Bayern are not one of them, as they can easily go toe-to-toe with the quality at their disposal. Bayern cruised through to the quarter-finals with flying colours, beating Paris Saint-Germain twice without conceding a goal.
The visitors would fancy their chances on Tuesday, given that their record on the road against English sides isn’t that bad. And they have the man who has already once masterminded and outwitted Pep Guardiola.
Team News & Tactics
𝗟𝗜𝗩𝗘 𝗧𝗥𝗔𝗜𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗚 📈
Watch as we prepare for our #UCL quarter-final clash with Bayern 👊
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 10, 2023
Phil Foden just had appendix removal surgery, so the Englishman will be sidelined. But Pep Guardiola has no other injury concerns to deal with.
Manchester City played a strong lineup against Southampton on Saturday. And it will not be a surprise if Guardiola sticks with the same starting lineup here. Positions on a Guardiola team are usually difficult to secure since they change so often. One player who is certain to keep his spot is Ederson Moraes, who will be the last line of defence in a unique 3-2-4-1 system.
Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, and John Stones should form a back four, with Stones and Ake pushing up into the midfield when needed to make up numbers.
Rodri Hernandez and Ilkay Gundogan will slot into the ever-changing midfield position, with assist-machine Kevin De Bruyne driving forward, bringing urgency, and lumping those teasing crosses to feed Haaland from the right midfield area.
Riyad Mahrez will almost certainly maintain his starting berth out wide, while Jack Grealish on the left is very surely a lock after his outstanding displays in 2023.
Erling Haaland was once again in the headlines after scoring his 30th league goal of the season with a magnificent bicycle kick. And the Norwegian marksman would fancy himself against a Bayern Munich defence that has looked shaky in recent times. Julian Alvarez could be an excellent bench option to come on and make an instant impact if required.
Probable Lineup (3-2-4-1): Ederson; Akanji, Ruben Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting missed the 1-0 victory over SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga at the weekend due to a knee injury. And the Cameroonian international remains a doubt for Tuesday’s game. Dayot Upamecano was also absent from that game owing to an accumulation of bookings. But he will be back available to partner Matthijs de Ligt at the heart of Bayern’s backline for Tuesday’s encounter.
With Manuel Neuer a long-term absentee, one can be sure of Yann Sommer in goal. Alphonso Davies’s speed is a frightening proposition. And he could take the role of an advanced winger here to stretch the City defenders and isolate them in 1v1 situations out wide.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Pavard and Joao Cancelo will battle it out for a place on the other flank. And it will most likely be the former Manchester City man who misses out as the Frenchman can tuck in to form a back-three in case Davies gets joy in advanced areas.
📋 Our squad for the first leg in Manchester! 🔴⚪#MiaSanMia #MCIFCB pic.twitter.com/PXRrsWBDdp
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) April 10, 2023
So far, Tuchel has trusted Choupo-Moting up front as well as Serge Gnabry acting as the false nine. The Cameroonian has a knock, so expect to see a false nine-anchored system. But it could be any one of Gnabry, Sadio Mane, Thomas Muller, or maybe Kingsley Coman or Leroy Sane.
In midfield, Joshua Kimmich is a certainty alongside Leon Goretzka. Young phenom Jamal Musiala would certainly be one to watch in this game. The German forward has been in impressive form this season in the Bundesliga, scoring eleven goals and providing nine assists.
However, his scoring record in Europe has not been as impressive this season since he failed to score a goal in his seven Champions League appearances. Still, if he can demonstrate his ability in this match, it would be a perfect opportunity for him to shine.
The former Liverpool man, Sadio Mane, will relish a return to England. But after hitting 12 goals by October, he has not scored since and will only be limited to a bench role here.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Sommer; Pavard, de Ligt, Upamecano, Davies; Goretzka, Kimmich; Sane, Musiala, Coman; Muller
- In terms of head-to-head records, Manchester City and Bayern Munich are on an equal footing. They have won three games apiece out of the six UEFA Champions League meetings between the two sides.
- Manchester City have won two of their three UEFA Champions League home games against Bayern Munich, with their sole setback coming against Pep Guardiola’s side in 2013.
- Following a streak of four defeats away from home against English opponents in the UEFA Champions League, Bayern Munich have lost only two of their previous ten such games.
- Seven of the last nine games of FC Bayern Munich ended with at least three goals.
- Two of Bayern Munich’s last four games have ended in 2-1 defeats.
Player to Watch
There were several names we had under consideration for the “one to watch” in this game. But it is hard to look beyond the Norwegian hitman that is Erling Haaland. The 22-year-old former Borussia Dortmund man will be familiar with Bayern Munich, having played against them on several occasions. But more importantly, he knows where the back of the net is better than anybody else on the planet right now.
If the Norwegian international is declared fit, expect to see his name on the scoresheet. He netted five goals in the last Champions League game as Manchester City hammered the same RB Leipzig outfit that recently drew with Bayern Munich.
Manchester City 3-2 Bayern Munich
An intriguing contest between two of the world’s strongest teams will take place on Tuesday night. And a packed crowd at the Etihad could see a plethora of star names on display. What we can expect is plenty of goals given the firepower that Manchester City and Bayern Munich possess.
Manchester City’s last four games have produced a massive 23 goals, while Bayern Munich’s last three saw ten goals scored. Bayern Munich have been an unstoppable force thus far in European action, having won every single Champions League game this season. Tuchel is well-known for his ability in knockout competitions. So this is far from an easy tie for the hosts.
However, The Hard Tackle believe Manchester City are just too hot to handle at the moment, especially at home, and can edge themselves to a slender 3-2 victory, taking a goal advantage heading into the return leg in Bavaria.
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