Manchester City appear destined to secure a place in the knock-out stages of the Champions League this week as they host Celtic at the Ethiad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s side need only to avoid defeat in mid-week in order to guarantee a place in the last-16 for a fourth consecutive season whilst Celtic require a minor miracle in order to avoid finishing bottom of the group. Only a loss to the visiting Scottish Champions coupled with a seven-goal Borussia Monchengladbach victory over Barcelona would see City miss out. The Hoops, meanwhile, require a win and an eleven-goal swing in order to secure a Europa League spot.
Manchester City will still be reeling from the defeat and general fallout from their defeat to Chelsea at the weekend. The Citizens were left stunned after the Premier League leaders came from a goal behind to secure victory whilst ugly scenes marred the closing stages of the game which saw both Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho sent off. After making an impressive start to the season, which started with ten consecutive victories in all competitions, Pep Guardiola’s side have stumbled somewhat in recent weeks as they have slipped down to fourth in the Premier League table.
Brendan Rodgers picked up his first piece of Silverware last month as Celtic cruised past Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup. The Hoops continue to be completely dominant in Scottish football and have yet to lose a single game in any domestic competition so far this season as they steamroller their way towards a seemingly inevitable treble. However, the reigning Scottish Champions have struggled so far in the Champions League and have picked up just two points in five group games and it looks like their European journey is all but over for this year. Celtic will be motivated by their previous performance against Manchester City which saw them play out a thoroughly entertaining 3-3 draw two months ago.
Pep Guardiola will be free to select both Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho in mid-week despite the pair both receiving red cards in the closing stages of Manchester City’s home defeat to Chelsea on Saturday. The South American duo could face lengthy domestic suspensions following their misdemeanours at the weekend and this may be their last opportunity to be involved in a fixture until late-Christmas. Club captain Vincent Kompany is still missing due to injury and it looks increasingly likely that the Belgian centre-half will not feature for City until the New Year. Raheem Sterling in the only other injury concern after the wide-man sat out of the defeat to Chelsea and it is unlikely that he will feature in mid-week.
Celtic will be without striker Leigh Griffiths and winger Scott Sinclair due to injury. Giffiths, who was last season’s top goal scorer for The Hoops, has struggled to hold down a regular place in the starting eleven this campaign after picking up a multitude of niggling injuries whilst Sinclair will miss out on the opportunity to take on his former club due to a hamstring issue. However, Brendan Rodgers will be boosted by the news that Patrick Roberts will be available to play in mid-week. The young midfielder is currently on loan from the Ethiad but Manchester City have given him the green light to be eligible to face them.
Manchester City Predicted Starting XI
Celtic Predicted Starting XI
- This season is the first time that Pep Guardiola has failed to secure to first place in a Champions League group as a manager.
- Celtic have won only once against English opposition in European competition – a one goal victory at Elland Road against Leeds United in 1970.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League home games, securing five wins and two draws.
- Celtic face the likely possibility of finishing bottom of their Champions League group for the third time in their last four European campaigns.
- Victory for Manchester City would see them win all three of their Champions League group stage matches at home for the first time.
Manchester City need to avoid defeat against Celtic in mid-week to guarantee their place in the knock-out stages, although Borussia Monchengladbach would need to beat Barcelona by seven goals to sneak second place, whilst The Hoops require a minor miracle if they are to secure a Europa League spot. It is hard to look beyond a Pep Guardiola’s team, especially on home soil, but the visitors will have the freedom of knowing that they have absolutely nothing to lose. A City victory, but not as straightforward as some would have you believe.
Predicted Score: Manchester City 2, Celtic 1
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