For the third time in four years of Champion’s League competition Manchester City have been drawn against Bayern Munich, one of the continent’s most fearsome teams. City have unfinished business with the Bundesliga champions and will be hoping to kick off the 2014/15 Champion’s League in style.
City were heartily embarrassed in the home leg by a rampart Bayern side who looked several classes above. The midfield was overrun, the defence looked confused, and only Alvaro Negredo’s (excellent) consolation goal saved the blushes of a blunt forward line. The away leg started equally as badly with two goals conceded in the opening 15 minutes but picked up and City finished with a famous 3-2 win at the Allianz Arena. It was an outstanding second half performance (especially from David Silva and James Milner) which saw City a Manuel Neuer heel away from progressing as group winners. There is, however the caveat that Bayern had already qualified and stepped off the gas after running into a 2-0 lead, but that shouldn’t take away from how very good it was.
Pep Guardiola’s side have come off the back of yet another successful season – though not as successful as they would have liked – but City will never have a better chance to beat them.
City have some problems on Wednesday night. Manuel Pellegrini is sidelined for a rant directed at the referee in last yea’s competition and his assistant… erm… *googles* Reuben Cousillas will be taking the reins. Pablo Zabaleta is similarly suspended for being just too cool (possibly). Stevan Jovetic and new midfielder Fernando are ruled out through injury.
However, Bayern Munich are heavily depleted by injuries far over and above the way in which City are. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are likely to be ruled out, as per Raphael Honigstein. Thiago Alcantara, Javier Martinez, Holger Badstuber, Bastian Scweinsteiger and Rafinha are also injured. Toni Kroos has left for Real Madrid. That is a lot of significant holes to have in a first team.
Apart form the aforementioned injuries and suspensions, City have a clean bill of health and should be looking to flood the midfield and target the elderly Xabi Alonso and the highly suspect defensive pairing of Dante and City legend Jerome Boateng of aeroplane trolley injury fame. Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world and a significant barrier but if any striker can get the better of him it is Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian is in fantastic form and entering the peak years of his career and it would be no surprise to see him get on the scoresheet.
Notes of caution must always be sounded. Indeed, they are essential. Bayern Munich are still dangerous with players such as Lewandowski and Mario Gotze offering some frankly outrageous attacking options, but City should go out to win this. A draw would be fine, but might feel like a wasted opportunity. The team is more than good enough to win and it would not be a surprise to return to Manchester with three points secured.
Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter