Manchester City will look to continue their good start to the UEFA Champions League campaign when they welcome Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb to the Etihad on Tuesday night. Pep Guardiola’s men are under huge pressure to finish top of the group after dispatching Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine two weeks ago, but there’s optimism in Manchester following recent wins over Everton and Watford. Here’s how we predict the Champions will line up for their latest European night…
Ederson had one of his stand-out showings for the club in the win at Everton, and he’s sure to keep his place here. The Brazilian had a few shaky moments at the start of the season but that patchy form looks firmly behind him just in time for things to really heat up.
João Cancelo has found minutes hard to come by since his arrival in the summer, but this seems the ideal time to give the Portuguese a start and a chance to usurp Kyle Walker. We know he has the quality to do so, but perhaps Pep feels the new boy needs to be patient and earn his place.
Nicolas Otamendi seems likely to start by virtue of being our only fit centre-back. I still feel Otamendi gets more stick than he deserves, but he will look a lot better in defence once John Stones returns from injury after the international break. For now, I expect his partner to be Fernandinho once again, with Pep probably not ready to give our younger centre-backs a start in the Champions League yet.
We have three options at left-back but I think Benjamin Mendy needs to start this one. He played half of the game against Watford but hasn’t been seen much since and this could be another crucial step in his recovery. Zinchenko and Angeliño have both had minutes this season but Mendy is the one we want to be playing at 100%.
Rodri continues to impress this season and, after some monstrously good showings in recent weeks, I would pay my entrance fee just to watch him develop alone. He should start this one and I imagine we’ll see David Silva, who was rested at the weekend, alongside Ilkay Gundogan in the midfield.
Pep has helped me out here by confirming that Sergio Aguero will start this game, and with Riyad Mahrez seemingly nailing down a spot as first choice on the right wing I think the Algerian will be rested here, with Bernardo Silva benefitting from rotation. Raheem Sterling seems the logical choice on the left wing.
The bench is somewhat trickier to predict. Claudio Bravo is an obvious one, but after that I’m guessing. Eric García, Kyle Walker, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Angeliño, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden are the six outfielders who I’d expect to be options for Guardiola, but we could easily see the likes of Harwood-Bellis or even Bernabe instead.
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