The Champions League returns on
Tuesday(match postponed until Wednesday due to heavy rain in Manchester), and Jack Grimse previews one of the marquee matchups on the first day of action in Europe’s elite competition.
Borussia Mönchengladbach are set to kick off another Champions League campaign tonight, the Etihad Stadium. Once again, they’ve been placed in the ‘Group of Death,’ being paired not only with City for the second year in a row, but Barcelona and Celtic as well.
It will be a new-look City side under Pep Guardiola. Gladbach boss André Schubert praised his Matchday 1 counterpart on Monday, and admitted that it would be a tough fixture for his side.
Patrick Herrmann picked up an injury in Saturday’s loss to Freiburg, despite only coming on with 13 minutes remaining in the game. Álvaro Domínguez is still sidelined.
City captain Vincent Kompany remains inactive. Sergio Agüero’s domestic suspension doesn’t apply to European competition, and despite a nagging calf injury he should be available for selection. Former Borussia Dortmund midfielder İlkay Gündoğan’s fitness is in doubt.
What to watch for:
1. New signings set to shape City team:
Nolito and John Stones both started in Saturday’s 2-1 Manchester Derby victory, expect them to both be in Guardiola’s plans for this match. Leroy Sané came on as a sub, and probably will be on the bench again. Claudio Bravo will most likely be the goalkeeper of choice.
2. Can Gladbach find some away form?
While Schubert didn’t take over until after the first Champions League game last year (a 3-0 away defeat to Sevilla), Borussia were unable to win any of their three road fixtures in this competition a season ago. Borussia-Park has been a happy hunting ground, but to progress to the Round of 16 they’ll probably need to take at least four points away from home during the group stage.
3. Will Borussia continue to get the better of Guardiola?
As Bayern Munich manager, Pep was winless in his last four fixtures against Borussia Mönchengladbach (D2L2). Both former Fohlenelf boss Lucien Favre and current trainer André Schubert seem to have his number, but different personnel is in place here. Still, the counterattacking style preferred by the Borussians lends itself to beating possession teams, should they be able to take advantage of pacy forward André Hahn and clinical finisher Raffael.
Bonus: How will the teams cope with the rescheduling?
Weather postponed the fixture by a day, and this will have an impact on both teams. Unfortunately, due to previous travel arrangements, around 90% of Gladbach fans will be unable to attend. The Foals have fantastic away support, so this will be a loss. But, Borussia have made an amazing gesture by fully refunding their supporters.
Gladbach fully refunding fans who have a ticket to the game vs City regardless of if they use that ticket tonight. Absolute class gesture.
— Conor Garratt (@conorgarratt) September 14, 2016
A benefit both sides may see is from a fitness standpoint. With another day to recover from the previous match, both bosses will have more options for their respective starting elevens.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1):
Claudio Bravo; Bacary Sagna, John Stones, Nicolás Otamendi, Aleksandar Kolarov; Fernando, David Silva; Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Nolito; Sergio Agüero.
Borussia Mönchengladbach (3-5-2):
Yann Sommer; Tony Jantschke, Andreas Christensen, Jannik Vestergaard; Julian Korb, Christoph Kramer, Lars Stindl, Mahmoud Dahoud, Fabian Johnson; André Hahn, Raffael.