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Steaua Bucharest vs Manchester City, 2016 Champions League: Team News, Preview

European season starts earlier for Pep Guardiola's men

Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

The month of August in a football season is not really that important for most teams. In a few countries (like Germany and Italy) the season hasn't officially started yet, and the ones that have feature the first two or three games of the campaign, which aren't likely to have a big effect on the outcome of the season.

For Manchester City this is not the case. August is a huge month for the club for one simple reason: the UEFA Champions League Playoffs, which will determine the team's participation in the group stage of the European Cup. Win and you get money and a major continental competition for the season; lose and you're not even playing the Europa League, and Pep Guardiola will have only domestic competitions for the first time in his managerial career.

Steaua Bucharest doesn't seem to offer a huge challenge, but this is a club that has tasted European Cup glory in the past, and remain a powerhouse in Romania. Plus, Guardiola's tenure has just begun, and the players have not yet adapted fully to the coach's ideas. This will not be an easy Playoff in any way, and Tuesday's first leg at Steaua's home makes it even tougher. Bite your nails, because this will be nervous.


Date/Time: Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 8:45pm local time (CET), 7:45pm BST (UK), 2:45pm ET, 11:45am PT (US), 12:15am IST (India, next day)

Venue: Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

On TV: Fox Sports 1 (US), TSN5, RDS2 (Canada), BT Sport 2 (UK), TEN 1, TEN 2 (India), elsewhere

Online: Fox Sports GO, FoxSoccer2GO (US), BT Sport Live Streaming (UK), elsewhere


Man City team news: Pep Guardiola continues to make noise with his plans for the squad. He left five first team players in Manchester, including Yaya Touré, who is still linked with a departure from the Citizens. Nasri, Denayer, Bony and Mangala definitely are not in Guardiola's plans, and have been left out of the squad that will face Steaua.

Joe Hart was benched against Sunderland, and is likely to sit again for Willy Caballero on Tuesday. Claudio Bravo is set to join the club from Barcelona, and Hart's future at City is in major doubt.

All 18 players that were in the squad against Sunderland traveled with Guardiola and are likely to be in uniform again, with youngsters Gunn, Adarabioyo and Angeliño left out of the final squad. Guardiola likes to rotate his starting lineup, but with his work just starting, he might have to repeat the team from the weekend, with only one change: Nicolas Otamendi, now recovered from a tendon problem, is likely to take Aleks Kolarov's place at center-back alongside John Stones. Other than that, the team looks exactly the same, with Sagna and Clichy playing as full-backs-slash-midfielders again.

Predicted Starting XI: Caballero | Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy | Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva | Sterling, Agüero, Nolito

Steaua Bucharest team news: The Romanian powerhouse has a few familiar faces from the national team that was in France's group at the Euros: Mihai Pintilli, Adrian Popa and especially Nicolae Stanciu are the main attractions of a side that isn't a strong as the one from the 1980s that competed for Champions League titles, but are dangerous enough to shock the world and beat City over two legs.

Steaua aren't favorites at all, but who knows. Football, y'all. Football.