Matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League, is highlighted by a critical Group D fixture as English Premier League Champions Manchester City clash with Bundasliga Champions Borussia Dortmund at City of Manchester Stadium. City are looking for their first points of the European campaign, after dropping a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Real Madrid. Borussia Dortmund needed a late goal, to secure a 1-0 result over Ajax Amsterdam to give them a share of top spot in Group D.
City are currently sitting in fourth place in the Premier League standings, but have yet to be defeated in domestic league play. Yet they have been inconsistent and wonky at certain times, which is cause for concern in the blue half of Manchester.
Roberto Mancini is usually coy about his team sheets so expect the unexpected when it comes to the Sky Blues starting XI. City do have options in the attacking positions, and their choices are plentiful. Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko share the club lead with 4 goals in all competitions. Sergio Aguero has returned from injury and could see time on the pitch as well. Mario Balotelli has struggled so far this season, but is poised for a breakout and this could be the match where the Italian International strikes with venom.
The midfield also has depth to spare so it will be interesting who Mancini decides to start. Samir Nasri has been one of City’s best players this season. His creative flair brings a hint of danger to the City attack. David Silva is emerging as a bright talent in the centre of the pitch. Yaya Toure brings experience and surging runs. Javi Garcia is a solid player who brings intelligence and guile to the pitch. Three Britons could also see time. Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell and Gareth Barry may be on the field. Barry is maddeningly erratic and might be considered too risky to bring on in such an important match. Rodwell and Sinclair lack experience on the European stage so they could ride the bench in this one.
The back has had moment of lacking quality, and they must shore up in order to be successful against Dortmund. Vincent Kompany captains the team, and is their sturdiest defender. Pablo Zabaleta didn’t start against Real Madrid and was rather perturbed by that omission. He should be on the sheet against Dortmund. Other options in the back include, Gael Clichy, Maicon, Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Koralov and Kolo Toure.
The one constant for City is keeper Joe Hart. Despite not recording a clean sheet so far this season, the English International has been superb between the wickets and could very well be the team’s MVP. Hart is hoping for better support from his teammates, so he doesn’t have to bait them out again.
Borussia Dortmund currently sit third in the Bundasliga, seven points behind Bayern Munich. At times, Die Schwarzgelben have looked lost and disinterested on the pitch, but they will need to be focused, in order to get a positive result in Manchester.
Like most German clubs, Dortmund use a 4-2-3-1 formation that focuses on attacking and creativity from the midfield. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski benefits from the work of the midfield. Lewandowski scored the only goal in Dortmund’s win over Ajax, and will be counted on to be an efficient finisher against City.
Behind Lewandowski is playmaker Marco Reus who can also be a striker when need be. Reus is extremely gifted from the attacking midfield spot, where is passing and finishing is difficult to defend against. Flanking Reus should be Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kevin Grosskreutz. Dortmund could also use Mario Gotze or Ivan Perisic as attacking midfielders as well.
Sebastian Kehl and Ilkay Gundogan are expected to be the holding midfielders, but Moritz Leitner could see time as a defensive midfielder as well. All are solid yet unspectacular players.
The back doesn’t change much for Dortmund, so expect the foursome of Lukasz Piszczek at right back, Marcel Schmelzer at left back, Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic at centre backs. Hummels is the leader of the group and will need to be a staunch protecter for Dortmund.
Roman Weidenfeller will be the keeper for Dortmund. The German recorded a clean sheet in the European opener against Ajax, and will need to be on top of his game against a strong Manchester City side.
This will be a tight affair. Both teams have had issues and are far from perfect. Not quite sure what type of game we’ll see, as it could be enthralling, or dull. Having said that, City have more attacking options than Dortmund and should be the fresher side as the game progresses. Look for City to emerge with a 2-1 victory and join the battle for second place in Group D.
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