The first European test awaits in Austria tomorrow night for Roberto Mancini and Manchester City in the form of Red Bull Salzburg. The men from Eastlands have been on a run of troubling form of late, with a loss to Sunderland away and most recently a disconcerting draw to Blackburn at home. One goal in two games is unacceptable for a squad of City's caliber, and Mancini looks set to insert Spanish midfielder David Silva in the starting XI, which will be a welcome change. City have so far been unable to finish their chances in front of goal, so you hope that the inclusion of a world class creative player like Silva will jump start an anemic offense.
Salzburg play a cautious formation, typically with a lone striker and three man central midfield. Like Sunderland and Blackburn before them, they'll try to clog the passing lanes and put most of their lineup behind the ball to minimize damage. If pattern holds, then we'll see the Blues with an overwhelming advantage in possession. That's not always a good thing, however, and it remains paramount that they find a deadly touch in the final 3rd.
Aleksandr Kolarov and Mario Balotelli will not play, while there remains injury questions for Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge, and Jerome Boateng. Joe Hart will start in goal ahead of Shay Given. Judging from City's Europa League qualifiers and Saturday's lineup, here's a guess as to Roberto Mancini's XI tomorrow night.
Once again, Manchester City hold a vast advantage in talent. There still seems to be problems getting the side to produce a complete effort, however, so a 1-0 win is my hope. Kickoff is tomorrow at 6 PM BST, and check back with Bitter and Blue for a game thread and match report.