Manchester City’s Champions League campaign could come to a premature end if they are unable to defeat German champions Bayern Munich at the Etihad on Tuesday (19:45 GMT, live on ITV1).
City have picked up just two points from their first four matches of the competition and will be eliminated if they lose this match, regardless of the result in the other fixture. If either CSKA Moscow or Roma are victorious, a draw would be insufficient to keep Man City in the competition.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side come into this crucial match on the back of a 2-1 win at home to Swansea on Saturday. The reigning champions are third in the Premier League table, with 24 points from seven wins, three draws and two defeats.
Man City had far from an easy ride on Saturday. Swansea took an early lead and made things difficult for their hosts even after Stevan Jovetic had levelled the scores 10 minutes later. Pellegrini’s side only started to display their attacking prowess after Yaya Toure had put them ahead on the hour mark. Even then, Swansea created a couple of good late chances.
While they have enough firepower to score against most opponents, the fact that City have kept just three clean sheets in 16 league and Champions League matches to date is clearly an impediment. They are falling well short of the dominant form that saw them win last season’s title after scoring over 100 goals and conceding less than one per match.
City have often struggled to replicate their strong domestic results in Europe. If they fail to make it through this time around, it will be their third group stage elimination in four years and would represent a blow to the reputation of Pellegrini, who led unfancied Villarreal to the semi-finals in 2006 and Malaga to the last eight in 2013.
Pellegrini will be without the injured Alexsandar Kolarov (calf) and David Silva (knee) and the suspended Fernandinho and Toure for this Champions League match. Edin Dzeko (calf) is also unlikely to take part.
Bayern are already assured of their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, having won all four of their group stage matches. They also lead the way in the Bundesliga, with 30 points from nine wins, three draws and zero defeats.
Pep Guardiola’s (pictured) side travel to the Etihad on the back of a comfortable 4-0 victory at home to Hoffenheim on Saturday. Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Sebastian Rode scored the goals. It was just the latest dominant performance in a campaign that has already seen Bayern win 7-1 away to Roma among other four and five goal victories.
Bayern wrapped up the Bundesliga title in record time during Guardiola’s first season in charge, while also winning the German Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the World Club Cup. However, their comprehensive 5-0 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final still rankles and has provided the impetus for their undefeated start.
Guardiola made a number of changes to Bayern’s tactics last season but there were still moments when he seemed to be making minor concessions to the style of play he had inherited. This year’s Bayern are very much a pure Guardiola team. The emphasis on control of possession continues to increase but does so in unison with greater positional flexibility.
Guardiola will be without the injured Claudio Pizarro (thigh), David Alaba (knee), Holger Badstuber (thigh), Javi Martinez (knee), Pepe Reina (calf), Philipp Lahm (ankle), Thiago (knee) and Tom Starke (foot) for the trip to Manchester.
Man City vs Bayern Munich Betting Tips
This year is the third time in the last four that City and Bayern have been drawn in the same Champions League group. They shared a win apiece in both 2011 and 2013, with Bayern recording a 3-1 victory on their last visit to the Etihad in October of last year. Jerome Boateng’s last-minute strike led Bayern to victory in this year’s opening group stage fixture.
Despite sitting third in the Premier League table, Man City are yet to really get going this season. They still carry a strong goal threat, but other teams are now finding better ways to take advantage of their defensive deficiencies. With both Toure and Silva absent on Tuesday, some of their attacking potency will clearly be lost.
Even with a lengthy injury list, Bayern still make for fearsome opponents. In the likes of Gotze, Lewandowski, Robben and Thomas Muller they have sufficient offensive talent to break down the large majority of opponents, while the manner in which they control possession can make it hard for opponents to establish a foothold against them.
Bayern are already guaranteed of qualifying as group winners and have little to play for, but they can still be expected to make things very difficult for City. We therefore believe that a draw is the most likely result.
- Back the draw @ best betting odds of 13/5 with Bet365, SkyBet, Betfred, BetVictor or Ladbrokes.
- Bayern were a goal up within seven minutes against City at the Etihad last season and have also made quick starts in both of their away matches in this year’s competition. 56.25% of Bayern and City’s games this season have seen a goal within the opening half-hour of play. Back under 28 minutes on the time of first goal market @ 9/10 with BetVictor.