With some players not even travelling to Crystal Palace last Saturday as well as other key players sitting most of the match on the bench; we should look fresh in Germany as we look to ‘put to bed’ the league stage of the Champions League.
Straight to it then…
Predicted starting 11, subs and outcome.
Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-1-4-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4…
Claudio to continue in net (if we qualify tonight, I expect to see Willy start at home to Celtic).
Rested and not even-having travelled at the weekend, I fully expect Gael & John to start at left back & central defence respectively. Those two fresh-legged defenders to be joined by (go again) Nicholas & (58-minutes played on Saturday) Pablo.
Kevin & Fernandinho are the only 2 of the ‘5 across the middle’ who I think will start tonight and, who, played a ‘full 95’ last Saturday. Ilkay is back; David to start after playing just 28 minutes in South London AND, I think, we’ll see Leroy get a starting place; back-facing a team from a league he knows so very well (that’s my theory anyway).
I was very tempted to suggest that Pep might start Kelechi tonight…but I ‘bottled it’ and, so, it’s ‘our man Serg’ again ‘up top’.
Willy the keeper insurance; Alex & Bacary the defensive cover. Fernando the central & defensive midfield option…and depending on how the game is going I expect ‘The Octopus’ to give Fernandinho some much-needed respite fairly early on in the second half. Raheem, Nolito and Kelechi the attacking choice-changes from the ‘7 on the side’.
Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured…and despite holding his side and having his head & neck heavily ‘bashed’ in his clash with Claudio Bravo at the weekend; I did also see at the time his lower leg twist outwards quite awkwardly as he came crashing back down to Earth. Sure enough, it’s his knee that’s ‘gone’ and he could now be out for “weeks” again), Fabian Delph (Injured but close to a return), Jesus Navas (not selected) & Yaya Toure (not included in the Champions League squad list).
Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?
Although I would hope that we can put this one to bed fairly quickly tonight so that we can give the likes of De Bruyne & Fernandinho, at least, some extra recovery time before a soon-to-arrive, early KO (12:30pm GMT) against Burnley on Saturday; yep…I’d go with that 11.
Result? At home and with their best, remaining chance tonight of clawing us back and joining us on 7 points; I do expect ‘gladbach to be really up for the fight this evening.
However, 4 points from 4 games in the Champions League and laying 13th (from 18) in their domestic league with just 3 wins from 11; it tells its own story about our German hosts. With the inclusion of some big-talented & fresh-legged players in our starting 11, then it’s City win for me and progression to the knock-out stages before we play the Scots.
Expected weather conditions during the game: Calm, dry, overcast and at around 52F not even that cold.