Manchester City travel to Germany to face Borussia Monchengladbach this evening knowing that a point would secure qualification to the Round of 16 in the New Year. They will have to undertake that task without Vincent Kompany as he once again succumbs to another injury.
The Belgian defender has been in the wars as of late after picking up a concussion in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace but Pep Guardiola has stated that it is a separate ailment that has stopped him from being picked this evening with that being a knee injury which will see him once again ruled out for a number of weeks.
Another player who is ruled out is Yaya Toure. The Ivorian was welcomed back to the Manchester City fold last week and he was given a surprise recall by Guardiola for their trip to Crystal Palace. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich was probably glad he did as Toure was hand to score the all important brace of goals that gave City the three points.
Unfortunately at the time the Champions League squads for this stage had to be decided. Toure and Guardiola were not on speaking terms and because of that the 33 has to make do with being left behind in Manchester while the named 25 man squad makes it’s way to Germany.
They go up against a Monchengladbach side who are having a torrid time this season and the prospect of a return to Europe’s top competition for next season looks highly unlikely even at this early stage of proceedings. Saturday saw them lose 2-1 at home to Cologne and they currently find themselves 13th in the Bundesliga.
They have not won in their last 6 league matches and last time out in the Champions League they were held at home by Celtic. They have a two point advantage over the Scottish side in the race for the Europa League spot and with neither side having favourable fixtures between now and the group stages you would have to believe that unless Celtic pull off something special then at least their will be European action after Christmas for ‘Gladbach.
City only need a point to make sure of progression to the knockouts thanks to their stunning victory against Barcelona in their last Champions League outing. The 3-1 win at The Etihad over Luis Enrique’s side more than atoned for their Catalan capitulation two weeks prior.
For many observers the win that Pep Guardiola masterminded over Barcelona meant that City have finally come of age as a top tier European side but they have to make sure that they get the job done this evening so that all their efforts in Matchday 4 don’t count for nothing.
This is a Monchengladbach side which is low on form and confidence and they will very much be their for taking. I can’t see anything else than a City win. They will then hope that Celtic can do them a favour when playing host to Barcelona to take the race for top to the final group game. But regardless of what happens at Celtic Park it will be a routine win for Guardiola’s men Tonight.