More than four months on from their big Champions League disappointment, Manchester City return to European action on Wednesday as they begin their campaign against RB Leipzig.
City will be hoping to make a strong start to the group stage as they look to return to the final after suffering heartbreak when they came runners up to Chelsea last season.
Pep Guardiola’s side has begun to hit their stride in recent weeks, with Saturday’s hard-fought victory over Leicester City making it three successive wins.
The Blues will need to keep that run going as they enter a difficult run of fixtures and will need to make a strong start to their European campaign as they have been drawn in a difficult group, with Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain and Club Brugge join them in Group A.
City suffered no fresh injury concerns at the weekend, but the match could see Guardiola break his streak of three matches in a row in which he has named an unchanged side.
Here’s how our MEN writers think City should line up in the match and you can add your own team in the widget below:
This is a bigger game than its current billing suggests, with City not even favourites to top the group – any slip-up here and they could be on their way out of the competition.
That is why Kevin De Bruyne should step back in after sitting on the bench at Leicester, and why Pep Guardiola needs to freshen up his team in other areas as well.
Riyad Mahrez could be Angelino’s worst nightmare, while Raheem Sterling can step in for Ferran Torres, who misfired on Saturday after two excellent performances.
Other than that, little needs to change, with Aymeric Laporte warranting his continuing inclusion.
There is pressure on this game, particularly because PSG away is the next one in the group. But at the same time, City have a squad of immensely talented players and Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling are two that will be chomping at the bit to prove what they can do, after three matches on the bench.
I’d bring in Sterling for Torres and Mahrez for Jesus, leaving Jack Grealish on the left: the more games he can play, the quicker he will become embedded into the team.
Bernardo Silva, Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan have worked well together as a three and it is hard to argue with the defence – providing Laporte is fit – although I’d bring in Zinchenko for Cancelo to give the Blues a left-footer on that side.
It’s important City get off to a strong start with PSG coming up and Leipzig will offer tough opposition, but I would still use this match to implement some changes for the first time in three games to rotate the squad with big games coming thick and fast.
As a result, I would rest Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus, with Aleks Zinchenko, John Stones, Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez all coming into the side for some much-needed minutes.
I would keep Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan in midfield, however, with how important they have been this season. I wouldn’t throw Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden in the action from the off, but hopefully, they can make their returns to action off the bench.
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