Seeking to right the wrongs of their exploits at the Red Bull Arena, Manchester City host RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday evening. Die Roten Bullen managed to hold the Premier League champions to a 1-1 draw in the first leg three weeks ago, but tackling the Citizens on their own turf could be a whole different kettle of fish.
With Phil Foden managing to recover from a scare over a foot injury to line up at Selhurst Park, Guardiola is set to be working with a fully-fit squad for the second leg, meaning that ‘Pep roulette’ could very well come into play.
After being named on the bench for the win over Crystal Palace, Kevin De Bruyne certainly ought to force his way back into the first XI, while Riyad Mahrez and Kyle Walker – despite recent allegations of flashing against the latter – can also expect recalls.
Mahrez was afforded a complete rest at the weekend, and the Algerian’s penchant for goals against Leipzig should no doubt work in his favour when it comes to Guardiola’s selection – he has scored in all three of his Champions League fixtures against Die Roten Bullen so far.
As for Leipzig, Etihad hat-trick hero Nkunku has picked up a fresh hamstring problem since recovering from a long-term knee injury and is expected to miss out, joining Xaver Schlager, Peter Gulacsi and Abdou Diallo on the sidelines.
Nkunku and Schlager both sustained their issues in the loss to Dortmund on March 4, and the latter could miss the rest of the season due to an ankle ligament tear, and Rose’s squad was also decimated by infection prior to the win over Gladbach.
Werner, Konrad Laimer, Dominik Szoboszlai and Lukas Klostermann were all reported to have been feeling under the weather, but all four of them made the squad on Saturday – the latter was only an unused substitute, though.
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Ake; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish
RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Blaswich; Henrichs, Orban, Gvardiol, Halstenberg; Laimer, Haidara; Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Werner; Silva
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 RB Leipzig (Man City win 3-2 on aggregate)
Defences do not normally come out on top when Man City and Leipzig lock horns, and we can see a similar theme continuing here, even with the absent Nkunku unable to replicate his terrific treble from 18 months ago.
However, home advantage and injuries to integral Leipzig players will no doubt work in the Citizens’ favour, and while patience may be the name of the game – as it was at Selhurst Park – Guardiola’s men should prevail by a narrow margin to keep their Champions League fantasy alive.