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Who Should Start vs. CSKA Moscow (UPDATED)

A must-win CL match in front of thousands of empty seats.

Ian Walton

Like I know after this performance. The only thing that kept me from being five players off was some late breaking news and even then, my lineup missed four (!) players *and* missed the formation *and* our side won by three goals. I was wrong eight ways to Sunday which, if nothing else, underscores the credo for this exercise: Pellegrini is better at this than you and better at this than me.

Tuesday's a weird match where a bunch of racist fans will have to wait outside and listen to the damn radio, not that they don't deserve at least that much aggravation. FIFA's next World Cup is in Russia, the same country currently playing CL matches in front of empty seats and after that, Qatar, a country that uses slave laborers to make empty seats for stadiums that will have all the ambience of your average oven. Someone should make a movie about Sepp Blatter's (ahem) ethics and no, not this one.  The first quote in the linked article should scare Tim Roth greatly.

We know the importance of this match; we've got just one point after two CL tries. We absolutely, positively, must win tomorrow. Lampard is out, Nasri is still recovering from groin surgery, Nastasic is probably hurt and I haven't heard anything about Mangala. Other than that, City enjoys a full bill of health. Let's do this.

GK-Joe Hart. Nothing short of magnificent vs. Tottenham, proving once again that when on, he's the best we got and maybe the best in England. I've written all year he's one mistake away from a long spell on the bench but I think this past Saturday has put that to rest. Caballero should get time in the Cup games but for league and CL, it's all Joe, all the time.

LB-Aleksander Kolarov. I had him starting this past Saturday and to be honest, I'm not sure I was wrong. Glichy played the full 90 against Spurs so we should see our favorite Christmas Caroler in Russsia.

CB-Vincent Kompany. He wasn't bad this past Saturday but he wasn't the MVP we've been seeing all season. He's still my choice for team player of the year.

CB-Eliaquim Demichelis or Martin Mangala. It'll be one or the other. If I had to bet, I'd say Mangala unless he's got a knock.

RB-Pablo Zabaleta. I'm curious if we had a vote for most admired Citizen, who would win? Probably this guy.

LM-David Silva. A quick turnaround, sure, but in a must-win match, he's gotta be there. Sub him out after our (hopefully) large lead.

CM-Yaya Toure. I maintain Pellegrini sent him a message by sitting him against Tottenham. If Lampard doesn't get hurt, Toure likely doesn't even play. Remember, Toure took an express flight to be made available for the match and Pellegrini sat him down anyway! And this isn't a big deal because why now? Well, it would've been if Yaya or Dmitry had made noise afterward about how Yaya went to all this trouble and Pellegrini didn't even have the courtesy to put him in the lineup. But Yaya didn't. Dmitry didn't. A star player who threatened to leave the team in the summer flew in, available to play and he wasn't played. And Yaya played pretty damn well for the few minutes he was in there; no complaints afterward. You can have Guardiola; I'll take Pellegrini, master of people skills and holistic manager extraordinaire.

UDPATEPellegrini and Yaya? They get along.

M-Fernandinho. I wouldn't take him over Silva or Yaya as a rule but this guy has been our most consistent center mid.

RM-James Milner. I wouldn't take him over Silva or Nasri as a rule but this guy has been our most consistent wide mid.

ST-Edin Dzeko. Last week, Pellegrini played Navas and Sagna when other managers (such as Mancini) would only have played the absolute best, best, bestest guys he had. He did so because Pellegrini wants everybody to be at their best and the only way to do that is to play everybody, keeping folks sharp. This is an extremely good thing. Dzeko didn't play against Tottenham; he's gotta play tomorrow and because of Pellegrini's philosophy, he will play.

ST-Sergio Aguero. A quick turnaround, yes, but if he plays half as well as he did against Tottenham, all he scores is two goals and we'll take it.

Now, watch Pellegrini start Nastasic, Jovetic and Caballero.

Prediction: We win 3-0.