Manchester City will open the defence of their Champions League crown at home against Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.

Manchester City will switch their attention from the Premier League to matters in Europe when they take on Red Star Belgrade. They begin the defence of their Champions League crown at home as the Serbian outfit pay a visit and start proceedings in Group G.

Pep Guardiola has guided his team to a stellar start in the Premier League, winning all of their five games so far. At the weekend, they were handed a scare after West Ham took the lead, and Manchester City were unable to break the Hammers for long periods.

However, goals from Jeremy Doku, Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland ensured three points came their way. And now, they have another point to prove in the continental competition. All eyes will stay on Manchester City this season and how they respond to winning the treble last season, but they seem stronger to defend all three of those titles.

Compared to Manchester City’s rock-solid form this season, Red Star Belgrade have been very much wobbly. Having lost two of their last three games, Crvena Zvezda will hope for a miracle in Manchester to get a positive result. Similar to the hosts, the Serbian champions also picked up four victories from as many games at the start of their campaign. But recent fixtures have not been kind to their cause.

In those recent games, Red Star Belgrade have also consistently shipped in goals, which may cause some concerns for their manager, Barak Bakhar. He will know his side cannot show sloppiness against Manchester City or face the harshest punishment, as Pep Guardiola’s men are ruthless in converting mistakes into goals.

As things stand, Red Star Belgrade will open their Champions League campaign as underdogs in Group G. Manchester City and RB Leipzig, who face BSC Young Boys on Tuesday, remain the favourites to qualify for the next round. Still, Bakhar’s men will do their utmost to change that narrative if things go their way between now and December.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Despite Manchester City’s supreme start to the season, they have been missing a few key players over that period. Kevin De Bruyne remains a long-term absentee for Pep Guardiola’s side, while there are doubts with a few others.

Mateo Kovacic, Jack Grealish and John Stones are all doubtful to feature against Red Star Belgrade. In any case, Guardiola wouldn’t have risked their participation even if they made it back in time. Hence, the manager could make minimal or no changes to his lineup from the weekend.

Erling Haaland is destined to lead the line for Manchester City, with Julian Alvarez sitting slightly behind the Norwegian in the attacking or second-striker role. Guardiola could make Matheus Nunes wait for his debut, while Kalvin Phillips is yet to show the manager he’s ready to start important games.

The duo could become options from the bench in the latter stages of the game. Hence, Guardiola could largely name an unchanged lineup, with only Nathan Ake likely to come in for Josko Gvardiol at left-back.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Ake; Rodri, Silva; Foden, Alvarez, Doku; Haaland

Red Star Belgrade

Barak Bakhar has a clean bill of health with his players and will look to tinker to name a viable starting eleven to face Manchester City. Aleksandar Katai remains their only confirmed absentee, but that has been the case for a while now.

In terms of their shape, Belgrade will deploy a back three with a midfield five to thwart the overload in those attacking areas by Manchester City. Aleksandar Dragovic will marshall the central defence, with Srdjan Mijailovic and Milan Rodic on either side.

Osman Bukari and Stefan Mitrovic will play in those wing-back roles, with a midfield three sandwiched between those wing players. In the middle, Marko Stamenic will sit at the base of midfield, with support from Jean-Philippe Krasso and Kings Kangwa on both sides.

Up front, Bakhar will deploy a two-prone strike force. Vladimir Lucic and Peter Olayinka will lead the line and will aim to disturb Manchester City’s rhythm at the back.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Glazer; Mijailovic, Dragovic, Rodic; Bukari, Krasso, Stamenic, Kangwa, Mitrovic; Lucic, Olayinka

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have won their first five games of this season in the Premier League.
  • Manchester City will face Red Star Belgrade for the first time in their history.
  • Erling Haaland, with 12 goals, was last season’s Champions League top scorer.
  • Red Star Belgrade have lost two of their last three matches
  • Red Star Belgrade have conceded six goals in their previous three games.

Player to Watch

Erling Haaland

Haaland had a phenomenal season for Manchester City, scoring 52 times across all competitions. His 12 strikes in the Champions League ensured he finished the tournament’s top scorer and helped clinch the title for his club.

Haaland did not score in the semi-finals or the final for Manchester City last season, but his efforts during the season cannot be discounted. The Manchester City talisman will aim to start the campaign on a high note with a goalscoring display at home against Red Star Belgrade.


Manchester City 3-0 Red Star Belgrade

Manchester City’s fiery start to the season will likely continue heading into their Champions League opener. Pep Guardiola would want his side to continue with the momentum from their first five games and collect three points against Red Star Belgrade.

It is an unknown test for the reigning champions, having never faced the Serbian side before. However, going by the quality available on both sides, the Premier League and Champions League holders could cruise to victory, with Erling Haaland expected to play a major role in proceedings.

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