Competition/Round: 2018/19 UEFA Champions League – Round of 16, First Leg
Venue: Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Assistants: Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez, Roberto Alonso Fernández
Fourth Official: José María Sánchez Martínez
VAR: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández, Juan Martínez Munuera
TV Info: BT Sport 2 (UK); Galavision (USA)
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Radio: BBC Radio Manchester (UK)
Schalke 04 and Manchester City progressed out of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League Group Stage and will now face one each other in the competition’s Round of 16. Schalke will host the first leg.
Die Knappen have struggled in the Bundesliga this season, having dropped toward the bottom of the table. Whilst they are eight points off the dreaded relegation playoff spot, it is without a doubt the Germans are trying to prioritize their survival in Germany’s top division. Having long been eliminated from Bundesliga title contention, the Champions League may offer them an alternative route of obtaining silverware this season.
In contrast, the Blues reclaimed the top spot of the English Premier League and will look to retain the EPL title. Having qualified for the FA Cup Quarterfinals over the weekend, City will look to add to their good fortune as they travel to Schalke on Wednesday. The Blues will then face Chelsea on Sunday in the EFL “Carabao” Cup Final.
Schalke 04 are without the injured Alessandro Schöpf, Benjamin Stambouli, Breel Donald Embolo and Steven Skrzybski.
Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy, Claudio Bravo, Eliquim Mangala and Vincent Kompany remain injured and will not feature in this match. Gabriel Jesus and John Stones are in doubt.
This will also be the first time where Schalke 04’s Matija Nastasić and Manchester City’s Leroy Sané will face their former clubs.
Fährmann; Caligiuri, Sané, Nastasić, Oczipka; Rudy, Bentaleb; McKennie, Serdar, Konoplyanka; Kutucu
Manager: Domenico Tedesco
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva; Sterling, Agüero, B. Silva
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Unlike a domestic league, where the victor is determined by consistent performances throughout the course of a season, the Champions League provides a lot of uncertainty.
Having nearly eliminated Real Madrid from this stage of the competition a few years ago, the Germans are more than capable of providing an upset. Yet Schalke have failed to advance to the competition’s Semifinals since the 2010/11 season. Moreover, they were eliminated at this stage of the competition in their last three attempts. With this in mind, die Knappen will look to turn this bad luck around.
The Blues, on the other hand, have made progress in the competition over the past several season. Albeit they failed to advance out of the Round of 16 under Guardiola’s last season, they did advance to the Quarterfinals under the Catalan in 2017/18 and the Semifinals under Manuel Pellegrini during the 2015/16 season.
City are heavy favourites to advance from this tie, and as Schalke continue to struggle domestically, it is likely the Germans will have minds on their domestic league performance. Unfortunately, the reality is that Schalke will prioritize Bundesliga survival, and this may hinder their performance in this two-legged affair.
Nonetheless, Schalke will put up a strong fight, albeit City will leave with a slight advantage. Both sides will have everything to play for in the second leg.
Schalke 1-3 Manchester City