The UEFA Champions League action is back after a three-week hiatus as Manchester City, Group G’s leaders face FC Copenhagen, who are yet to taste a victory in the competition this season at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s team are on the back of a derby day demolition, beating their bitter rivals, Man United, by six goals to three.
Manchester City are currently second in the table behind Arsenal but are the only unbeaten team in Premier League. Erling Haaland, of course, is the headline name as the Norwegian striker has already scored 17 goals in City colors. His ‘karate kick’ style goal against Borussia Dortmund sealed an emphatic comeback win last game week and he will look to continue his robotic form against Copenhagen.
Meanwhile, the visitors are in a spot of bother. Copenhagen won the Danish Superliga last season but are placed sixth in the league and has struggled away from home. A goalless draw against Sevilla was rather a dull affair, and the odds of winning a tie against Manchester City are unquestionably low. But they will hope to start grinding out results to gain momentum in a crucial month.
Kyle Walker was forced off with an injury during the Manchester Derby and Pep Guardiola has confirmed that he is ruled out this week. Joining him on the treatment table are Kalvin Phillips, who had a surgery on his shoulder last month, and John Stones, who is out of action for at least two weeks due to a hamstring injury.
However, Rodri is back in action after missing Sunday’s encounter because of a knock. He should get the nod in the Champions League ahead of Ilkay Gundogan, who deputized the Spaniard superbly against Manchester United. Kevin De Bryune could be given a rest, with Julian Alvarez potentially replacing him, while Ruben Dias is a certain starter after sitting out against United.
Meanwhile, Copenhagen have a couple of injury issues. Mamoudou Karamoko is expected to miss the entire month, while midfielder Akinkunmi Amoo is out for the rest of the season with a significant knee injury. Copenhagen secured a narrow victory against Aarhus Gymnastikforening in their last game, with Lukas Lerager scoring the winner.
It will certainly be a tough ask for Copenhagen to stop the in-form and free scoring Manchester City side, but Pep Guardiola will not take the Danish Champions for granted. Copenhagen are a well-organized outfit as shown against Sevilla and will look to frustrate the blues and hit them on the break.
Summer singing Cornelius will prove to be crucial for Jacob Neestrup’s side to get a positive result at the Etihad. Winger, Viktor Claesson is the team’s top scorer this season with 7 goals to his name and is another player who will look to target City’s flanks. However, Copenhagen’s record in the Champions League is poor, and they have won only one of their last seven away games in all competitions in this campaign.
Manchester City, meanwhile, have been undefeated at home in this competition for over four years. In that period, they have faced the likes of Real Madrid, PSG and Borussia Dortmund twice, while facing Atletico Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur once. Guardiola’s men are also finding the back of the net regularly, as the home fans have been treated with some breathtaking football over the years.
The Spanish manager has opted for inverted fullbacks throughout the season but went with a traditional back four against United with the fullbacks staying wide. This provided the opportunity for the likes of Foden and Grealish to express themselves in the half-spaces as they ran riot on Sunday. It will be interesting to see whether Guardiola continues with the same strategy or reverts to his infamous inverted fullbacks.
Nonetheless, the blues certainly have the upper hand on this fixture and will look to exert their dominance from minute one. Copenhagen, meanwhile, will rely on their midfield and defensive structure to frustrate Man City and limit their chances.
Manchester City predicted lineup vs FC Copenhagen: Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Gomez; Rodri, Gundogan; Foden, Grealish, Alvarez, Haaland.
FC Copenhagen predicted lineup vs Manchester City: Ryan; Diks, Vavro, Khocholava, Kristiansen; Claesson, Falk, Zeca, Stramenic, Daramy; Cornelius.