Manchester City are on the cusp of a third successive trip to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. The Manc Blues travel to Bavaria with three goals in their pocket as the prepare to face Bayern Munich. Pep Guardiola will be keen to put forth a strong side to keep the German Giants at bay. Once again, I take my guess at who will start.
I’ve given up the pretense that City still play a 4-3-3 formation. For several matches now it has been a 3-4-3 or a 3-2-4-1 depending on how you look at it. We’re going to call it a 3-4-3 with one of the holding midfielders sliding to the right-back position when the opposition have possession.
Without further delay, here is my pick for the starters in the second leg of the UCL quarter-final. Ederson starts in goal after his clean sheet against Bayern last week.
For quite some time, Pep Guardiola has employed two centre-halves and two full-backs as his default defence at Manchester City. Perhaps out of necessity, this season the Catalan has increasingly played with three central defenders. This has been made possible by the outstanding play of Manuel Akanji, Rúben Dias, and Nathan Aké. Dias in particular has stabilized the City back end since his return to fitness. All three start against Bayern.
With the new setup, it’s a packed midfield. The good news is that with a double pivot behind two central midfielders, the supply to the front has become more aggressive. John Stones has been a do-it-all solution alongside Rodri. His ability has freed the Spaniard to be even more bold when pressing the ball carrier than he usually is. Stones and Rodri will be joined in the middle of the park by Kevin De Bruyne and City’s other Swiss Army knife, Bernardo Silva.
As for the attack, with Silva sliding into the midfield, it frees up a spot for Riyad Mahrez on the left. Mahrez has been crucial for City this season. He teamed with Jack Grealish to help carry City’s offense through the period following the World Cup, and the Blues would likely not be fighting for the treble without his contributions. Grealish and Mahrez are joined in this match by the one-and-only Erling Braut Haaland. The Norwegian is assaulting all goal-scoring records, and with 6 more goals in the competition he would equal the single-season mark of 17 set by Christiano Ronaldo in 2013/14.
Kevin De Bruyne
There you are Cityzens. Who gets the start in your XI? Let us hear it in the Comments.