Bayern Munich v Manchester City: Champions League Preview

Manchester City crest on a white flag waving in the wind

Champions League Quarter-Final Second Leg (0-3 agg.)

The Champions League has been far from kind to Manchester City, with the club still waiting to get their hands on the famous trophy despite winning six domestic titles in the last 11 seasons.

Despite this, the club has slowly been accumulating a collection of famous European nights, particularly in the last three seasons, and last Tuesday was no exception.

Pep Guardiola’s side put on a dominant display against a dangerous Bayern Munich side, running out 3-0 winners to put themselves in the drivers’ seat.

Bayern had chances, but if anything City will feel hard done by not to have increased their lead further, with Yann Sommer making exceptional saves to deny Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan and Julian Alvarez over the course of the first leg.

City fans are hopeful, but with a chequered history in this competition they will be far from overconfident.

Predicted Lineups:

Bayern Munich Likely Starting XI: (4-2-3-1) Sommer; Pavard, de Ligt, Upamecano, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Coman, Musiala, Sane;  Muller
Manchester City Likely Starting XI: (3-2-4-1) Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish; Haaland

Neither side looks likely to ring in the changes, but we expect Thomas Tuchel to find room for the experience of Thomas Muller with his side in such a tough position heading into this tie. The most likely casualty would be Serge Gnabry who really struggled to make an impact in the first leg.

Manchester City meanwhile should be unchanged. A returning Phil Foden is unlikely to be ready to feature and the quality of the performance in the first leg makes any changes unnecessary.

John Stones should again reprise his fluid role, stepping forwards from centre back to partner Rodri in central midfield when City have the ball, allowing the front five to spread themselves across the Bayern backline.

First Leg: Manchester City 3-0 Bayern Munich

After an enthralling first half, a last-ditch Ruben Dias block on Jamal Musiala’s low drive and an incredible Rodri strike from 25 yards were all that separated the sides, but the second half was where the game was settled.

City pressed higher up the pitch, disrupting Bayern’s build-up and forcing several errors from Sommer and centre back Dayot Upamecano.

It was Upamecano who had his pocket picked by Jack Grealish to begin the move for City’s second goal, and the young Frenchman looked mentally shot by the end, his increasingly panicked play allowing City to press right up against Bayern’s backline.

This kind of aggressive pressure is unusual from a Guardiola side, usually preferring to be more cautious in winning the ball back to guard against counterattacks, but the gamble paid off enormously, giving City a stranglehold on the tie as it heads back to Bavaria.

The defence were exceptional to a man, and Ederson, often at fault during City’s previous Champions League exits made a string of saves against former City man Leroy Sane to preserve City’s advantage at 1-0.

Ederson’s new-found confidence in one-v-one situations is a huge bonus for this side and should allow Guardiola to persist with this high pressure, more confident that the defence can step up and trust their goalkeeper to make the saves if they are caught out.

What can we expect tonight?

Bayern have little to lose, being 3-0 down, so an early attacking onslaught looks inevitable. However, the shakiness of Tuchel’s sides defence should provide City with plenty of opportunities to break. With Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland really beginning to click in recent weeks, the chances of Bayern keeping a clean sheet look somewhat slim to say the least.

City know how effective their press was in the first leg, not only for creating attacks of their own but also for disrupting Bayern’s build-up play and preventing their attacks from source. It is a difficult balance to strike, but with this City side purring in recent weeks it is hard to see them being unable to replicate their success again, even if it will be a hostile atmosphere.

An early goal for either side dramatically changes the outlook of the game, either opening the door to a Bayern comeback if the hosts can snatch it, or perhaps killing the tie for good if the visitors strike first.

The German champions have endured a poor run of form since the dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann, with new coach Thomas Tuchel managing just a single win in four games since beating Dortmund at home in his first game in charge.

This run has seen Bayern go out of the German Cup, losing 2-1 to Freiburg, and now seeking to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Champions League quarter finals.

There have been dressing room problems too, with former Liverpool man Sadio Mane slapping Leroy Sane after the first leg in Manchester after a disagreement. Sane’s bruised lip was clear for all to see during the weekend’s game with Hoffenheim, but Mane will be available to play tonight after serving his 1-game internal suspension.

All signs point to Pep Guardiola’s side reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the third year running. The Blues have been in exceptional form, their winning run now extending to 10 games in all competitions since their 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 against RB Leipzig.

Who awaits the winners in the Semi-Finals?

Should they get over the line, City will once again face Real Madrid, who beat Chelsea 2-0 last night to advance 4-0 on aggregate. That is far from a comfortable draw, and City fans will be all too familiar with Carlo Ancelotti’s side who knocked them out of the competition in dramatic fashion at the same stage last season.

If they do find themselves in the semi-finals, they may start to dream of an historic treble, something which has only been achieved once by an English side, cross-city rivals Manchester United in 1998-99.

Such an achievement would also see the club become only the second side to win three Premier League titles in a row, after Manchester United who have done it twice, in 1999-2001 and 2007-2009.

Meanwhile, if Bayern can pull off a shock comeback, they will become just the fourth side in Champions League history to overturn a three-or-more-goal first leg deficit. This elite club contains Barcelona, Liverpool, Roma and also Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna.

This would set up what would be the third Champions League semi-final between the two clubs in ten years, and a first since 2017-18. Bayern have not beaten Madrid over two legs since their run to the final in 2011-12, so it is a matchup neither team will be happy to see on the horizon after such a tough quarter-final draw.

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