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Manchester City vs Celtic, 2016 Champions League: Predicted Lineup

City finish off their Champions League group stage on Tuesday evening with a visit from Scottish powerhouse Celtic.

Manchester City Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Manchester City look to finish off their Champions League group stage in a bit of style Tuesday evening against visitors Celtic FC. It’s worth noting early on that in reality this game is of no consequence to City, they have second place in the group secured and cannot improve or lower their spot. What City can do is experiment a little with a starting XI that will be without Fernandinho and Sergio Agüero in the league for a while, and one that seems incapable of keeping a clean sheet at the moment.

Supporters will remember that when City and Celtic played in Scotland it was a six-goal thriller that saw City fight back and tie the game on three separate occasions before ultimately ending in a 3-3 draw. A measure of revenge might be on the minds of both Celtic and City players and fans despite the apparent lack of stakes in this return fixture.

One thing is for sure, City's starting XI for this game might be the hardest to predict all season. Will Pep Guardiola opt for a total change allowing a lot of players to rest and some kids to get more game time? Also on the table is going with a lineup that City may be forced to use with the prolonged absences of Agüero and Fernandinho.

Below are the XI players I believe City and Pep will go with. It’s possible I go 0-for-11 with these picks, but these players are the ones with the best chance to get into the starting lineup. As for the formation, I feel Pep will go with the 4-2-3-1 trying to get a little more defensive stability out of his team.

Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo

The Chilean is still the number one at City despite some questionable play of late. It’s worth noting moving to a brand new country and being thrown onto a title contender is never easy, so hopefully with time Bravo will play up to the standards we’ve seen in Chile and Spain.

Defense: Pablo Zabaleta, John Stones, Tosin Adarabioyo, Gaël Clichy

The defense might be the hardest to work out in this team. Nicolas Otamendi is available but will miss the next Premier League game due to yellow card accumulation. With news coming out City won't buy another defender in January, youngster Tosin Adarabioyo is seen as the natural replacement for Vincent Kompany. This could be the perfect game to test out the youngster next to John Stones. Zabaleta and Clichy haven't seen as much gametime with Kolarov and Sagna ahead of them so I see both getting the nod.

Defensive Midfield: Fernando, Fabian Delph

In defensive midfield Fernando is the like-for-like replacement for Fernandinho and it likely to be his replacement in the Premier League as well. With Yaya Touré being ineligible for the Champions League, Fabian Delph could get his first real playing time this season after months out with injury.

Attacking Midfield: Leroy Sané, David Silva, Nolito

Ideally Kevin De Bruyne earns a rest in this one as he’ll be the most important attacking City player for the next month. That means David Silva can enjoy the game as the lone attacking midfielder. Out wide I’d love to see a little more of what Leroy Sané and Nolito can do. Sané has been getting better slowly and Nolito has cooled off since his excellent start to the season, so both could use 90 minutes here.

Striker: Kelechi Iheanacho

Well I hope Kelechi Iheanacho is ready, with Agüero set to miss four games in the league, the young Nigerian will be the main man up top for City. With the impending arrival of Gabriel Jesus, Kelechi must avoid being relegated to a background player and there’s no better time than the present.


So that’s our predicted lineup! As for a prediction, a clean sheet for City would be ideal, even a 0-0 would be good since City have had almost no clean sheets this season. I don't think that will happen, though, going with City 2-1 Celtic.