The highlighted fixture of Matchday four takes place at the Etihad Stadium where Manchester City will clash with defending European Champions Bayern Munich. Each side won their opening matches in the Champions League and both are looking at taking control of Group D.
After a rousing 4-1 rout of derby rivals Manchester United, City had a major letdown and fell 3-2 to Aston Villa over the weekend. Either the Sky Blues were far too high after their triumph over United, or were caught looking ahead to Bayern, forgetting about Villa. Bayern on the other hand, have been undefeated in all competitions so far this season, as they escaped with a narrow 1-0 result over Wolfsburg over the weekend.
City like to employ a 4-3-3 formation for the most part as manager Manuel Pellegrini prefers to have his team in attack mode. Sergio Aguero has an uncanny knack for scoring the big goal. Edin Dzeko is an imposing striker who is terrific in the air. Alvaro Negredo is a creative forward who meshes very well with finishers Aguero and Dzeko. The question will be can the strikers penetrate the stifling Bayern back four?
The talismanic figure in the midfield is Samir Nasri. The French International delivers brilliant service to his forwards, while also producing timely goals for City. Nasri will have to contend with Bastian Schweinsteiger in a highly anticipated showdown between two International superstars. Jesus Navas will attempt to use his pace, to attack Bayern from the right flank. David Silva has been nursing a thigh knock, but is expected to be in the staring eleven for City. Silva is an upgrade over James Milner who struggles with pace and inconsistent play.
Vincent Kompany is the leader of the back four. The Belgian International has been strong in the early part of the season, after a disappointing campaign last season. Joleon Lescott partners with Kompany at the centre back spot. While not as formidable as Kompany, Lescott is a savvy defender who is rarely caught out of position. Pablo Zabaleta should be on the team sheet as the right back. Serbian International Aleksandar Kolarov will most likely start at left back.
Joe Hart is still rated as one of the top keepers on the planet, but he has shown moments of doubt that could be a concern. The English International will have to be in top form against a powerful Bayern side.
Bayern continues to run a 4-2-3-1 formation under new manager Pep Guardiola. Mario Mandzukic is the perfect lone striker for the Bavarians. The Croatian International has 5 goals in all competitons and is virtually unstoppable in the air. He will clash with Kompany in the penalty area, and the winner of those battles, could very well decide the match for either team.
The midfield is filled with creativity and quality. Thomas Muller leads the club with 6 goals in all competitions, and is continuing his exemplary play from last season. Franck Ribery is one of the finest servicemen in the world and will cause chaos to opposing defenders. Arjen Robben’s pace is vital for Bayern. The Dutch International loves to fly down the flank, and he is not afraid to cut into the middle to create dangerous scoring opportunities.
Bastian Schweinsteiger just might be the best defensive midfielder on the planet, but he will have his hands full dealing with Samir Nasri. Schweinsteiger has the ability to take complete control of the match and if he can contain Nasri, Bayern will be in great shape. The fitness of Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez are a question mark so it is very possible that Philipp Lahm moves up to partner with Schweinsteiger in the defensive midfield.
If Lahm moves up, the back four will have a slightly different look. Austrian International David Alaba will most likely start at left back. Brazilian International Rafinha is the probable right back. Jerome Boateng and Dante should be the partnership at central defence. Despite the changes, Bayern still boasts a strong back four that will be under pressure against a strong City side.
Manuel Neuer is a fine keeper who possess quick reflexes. Neuer doesn’t lack confidence, which can irritate the opposition. Manchester City cannot let Neuer get the psychological advantage and just ignore the German goalie.
Both teams love to attack so expect goals in this fixture. The difference will be Bayern Munich have no problem going into enemy territory. Bayern only lost one match all of last season away from Allianz Arena and won’t be intimidated by the City supporters. The depth of Bayern Munich will be a factor, as they can attack from all corners and variations. With Schweinsteiger controlling the pace, Bayern has the advantage and should take the spoils. City will capitalize on Bayern’s changes in the back, but it won’t be enough. Bayern wins 3-2
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