…but let’s not help her across the road, hey (sorry...too cheesy?)?
Joking aside, what point I’m making – and this was also raised in Pellegrini’s pre-match presser – is that we’ve often struggled at home in the Champion League for whatever reason; leaving ourselves then with a right ol’ fight on our hands to qualify towards the last couple of group games.
Those “struggles” have also come against sides where it was generally considered that we SHOULD win. Although weakened somewhat in the summer and struggling in Serie A so far with no wins in 3; Juve are, let's not forget, last season’s Champions League finalist.
Straight into it then (short'ish one this)…
Predicted line-up, subs and result:
4-5-1 come 4-2-3-1 come 4-3-3:
Same back 5 (including Hart)…although I had a brief ‘spider sense’ moment that Manuel Pellegrini MIGHT make a change and go with the slightly more experienced [over Eliaquim Mangala] Nicolas Otamendi for this one; giving the ex-Porto & Valencia man his full debut. I have to say that Mangala’s slightly shaky performance alongside a slightly shaky, also, Kolarov on Saturday was in my thoughts with that one. But I’ve settled for our manager ‘sticking’ for the time being at least.
Although given more off-training-pitch recovery time following a bruising Palace encounter on Saturday-gone; it is hoped that Fernandinho should be 100% for tonight’s glamorous-looking clash. That being the case, it’s a same midfield 2 with the Brazilian & Yaya.
THEN we have a much-anticipated trio of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva…in whatever combination they choose to set up in and then shuffle around during the game. All three can play ‘right across there’ and is a mouth-watering prospect indeed!
All three behind a striker eager to get his stuttering City career going; Wilfried Bony being that man. I’m confident he’ll ‘come good’ and will be a quite devastating striker once he starts to find the net…
Apart from a continued lack of left & right-back cover, that’s a strong bench. Aside from the usual goalkeeping cover there’s plenty of central defensive experience / back-up with the two Argentines; with Fernando having recovered from injury but still regaining his fitness levels, Martin Demichelis is ‘in there’ as insurance [also] as a defensive midfielder should that be needed.
Fernando's absence should allow another ‘bench spot’ for young summer signing Patrick Roberts to add to an attacking midfield 3 on the bench. Nasri, like Fernandinho, has been given extra rest time following the game at Selhurst Park…and Jesus Navas shouldn’t be TOO shocked to [likely] find himself on the bench; following 2 back-to-back, below-standard performances coinciding with the arrival of Kevin De Bruyne.
Weekend goal-scorer and match winner Kelechi Iheanacho the only out & out striker option of the 7 subs.
Notable absences: Gael Clichy (injured), Pablo Zabaleta (injured), Fabian Delph (injured), Fernando (recovering fitness) and Sergio Aguero (injured).
Result? On form, at home and with an increased determination this season to do better in this competition; this is a home win for me.