Manchester City face a difficult Champions League Round of 16 tie against AS Monaco and they will have to be at their best to avoid an early elimination. It has been another disappointing season for English sides in Europe, but there is an expectation on Pep Guardiola’s men as the Premier League side most likely to win the Champions League this season. Arsenal have a near impossible task to turn it around against Bayern Munich, while it is difficult to see struggling Leicester City having much success in their current state.
Although they trail Chelsea in the Premier League, the Manchester club have improved a lot in recent weeks and they should be quietly confident of progressing from this tie. They have one of the best managers in the world and their squad is the envy of a lot of other European clubs. It will be a long term project for Guardiola, unlike his previous two jobs, but he will be hopeful of going deeper into the competition. The Spaniard has never failed to reach the semi-final stage during his management career and that experience should benefit City in this tie.
It would be foolish for Manchester City to underestimate their opposition ahead of this tie. Tottenham will attest to that after they lost both of their group games against the Ligue 1 leaders, which ultimately cost them their place in the competition. Monaco have been incredible this season and they are serious contenders to win the title in France ahead of PSG who have been dominant for years. Their biggest asset is their attack, as they have scored 76 goals in only 26 league matches. That is an average of 2.9 goals per game. Considering City have struggled defensively all season, Leonardo Jardim’s side have a fighting chance of reaching the next stage of the Champions League.
The home side come into this match with a six-match unbeaten run, but there is still room for improvement as they attempt to make a late surge for the league title. At the weekend, they didn’t manage to beat Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup, with the match finishing goalless. Their inability to beat a Championship side should fill provide Monaco with a confidence boost ahead of Tuesday’s match.
The Ligue 1 leaders have started the year in great form as they have yet to lose since the winter break. In fact, they have won all but two of their last ten matches and that makes them an intimidating opponent for Manchester City. This is the best Monaco side for years and they will look to attack at the Etihad Stadium.
Sergio Aguero is set to start this match after Gabriel Jesus was ruled out for months. Fernandinho could be selected in the holding midfield role ahead of Yaya Toure to provide more defensive cover. Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones could partner each other in defence.
Monaco won’t change their team too much, despite a disappointing draw against SC Bastia. Fabinho is the player most likely to come in ahead of Joao Moutinho. The two players to keep an eye on are Thomas Lemar and Bernardo Silva, with both attracting interest from big European clubs.
Manchester City Monaco
The club captain Vincent Kompany won’t be risked as he continues to recover from a knee problem. Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov are both doubts after picking up knocks. Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan are both set to miss the rest of the season.
Gabriel Boschilia is the only player missing for Monaco due to a cruciate ligament injury, which means that they will select a near full strength side in Manchester.
This is one of the most enticing ties of the round as it sees two attacking comes come head-to-head. There will be entertainment across the two matches, as both sides possess a serious goal threat in the final third. It will be interesting to see how Guardiola plays it, as he could either go for the forward-thinking 4-3-3 that he has been using in recent weeks or be a little more conservative. Monaco have already won in England this season and that experience will serve them well. Although they are a dangerous team, it would be a surprise if they come out on top on Tuesday. City should win this, but it won’t be by a comfortable margin.
Score prediction: Manchester City 3-2 Monaco
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