The perfect start of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City has certainly been impressive. Six wins in six games is a great record, sure, but the level of play is the shining aspect of the first month of Pep Ball. City have played sublime possession football at times, and the world's best manager has done a great job.
But most of Pep's wins have been in England. The European season starts for real on Wednesday, when the Citizens kick off the Champions League group stage against Borussia Mönchengladbach. This match was supposed to take place on Tuesday, but the game was cancelled and scheduled for Wednesday due to weather conditions. It will be dry and clear this time, and both teams are talented, well-trained and ready for war.
This should be fun.
HOW TO WATCH ON TV/ONLINE
Date/Time: Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 7:45pm local time (BST, UK), 8:30pm CET (Europe), 2:45pm ET, 11:45am PT (US), 12:15am IST (India, next day)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED)
Online streaming: FoxSoccer2Go, WatchESPN (US), beIN SPORTS CONNECT (Canada), FuboTV (Canada, monthly subscription, click here to sign up), BT Sport Live Streaming (UK), TEN Sports Live (India), elsewhere
Man City team news: Pep Guardiola has some amazing news with the return of Argentine striker Sergio Agüero, who missed out on the Manchester Derby and still has to serve two more games of his domestic suspension, but is available to play in Europe. Agüero has six goals already since Guardiola took over, and Kun will look to add to his tally on Wednesday.
Leroy Sané had a good debut at Old Trafford, and the German winger is in instant contention for a starting place along with Raheem Sterling, Nolito and Jesus Navas. In midfield, Fernando and Fabian Delph are out for "unspecified" reasons (most likely personal), and with Ilkay Gundogan still not fully fit to play, the amazing trio of Fernandinho, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne is likely to start again.
On defense, John Stones will start once again, and the full-back rotation might see the returns of Zabaleta and Clichy, with Sagna and Kolarov dropping to the bench. Claudio Bravo had a shaky City debut, but there are no indications of the Chilean being replaced by Willy Caballero on Wednesday.
Predicted Man City lineup (very fluid 4-1-4-1)
Bravo | Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy | Fernandinho | Sané, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling | Agüero
* * * * *
Gladbach team news: Coach Andre Schubert has one major absence in the form of Patrick Herrman, the team's top wide man. But attackers Raffael and Thorgan Hazard are in great form and will cause problems to City's defense, as well as Mahmoud Dahoud, one of the best young midfielders in Germany. Chelsea loanee Andreas Christensen is a fantastic young defender, and Gladbach's scheme with three or five players at the back will make things difficult for the City offense.
Gladbach are sensational on the counter, and Borussia have not lost to Pep Guardiola in the last four matches, with two wins and two draws against the Catalan's Bayern Munich side. German teams are tactically sound and well prepared to defend and hit the fast break, and Gladbach have the talent to make all 90 minutes tough for City.
Predicted Gladbach lineup (3-4-3)
Sommer | Elvedi, Christensen, Jantschke | Traoré, Dahoud, Kramer, Wendt | Hazard, Stindl, Raffael
This will be a very tough game. The tactics might shine brighter than talent, but City have so much talent and such a great tactician that they might outclass Gladbach in both aspects. I'm not expecting too many goals, which is why I'm going with a 2-0 victory for the Citizens.