Manchester City will hope to make history this evening when they welcome Dynamo Kiev to the Etihad for the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, with a 3-1 win in the first leg giving them a great chance of progressing to the Quarter Finals of UEFA’s flagship competition for the very first time. The impressive victory at the Olympic Stadium, with goals from Agüero, Silva and Yaya Touré, gives City the advantage leading into their tie, but as their recent formbook has shown, they can take nothing for granted despite the aggregate lead.
City will at least be able to welcome back midfielder Touré to the fold, the Ivorian international absent at the weekend when City were left largely frustrated in a 0-0 draw at relegation threatened Norwich City. The former Barcelona star definitely adds an extra dimension to the team, and that could be needed as former Spurs striker Serhiy Rebrov and his team come to Manchester knowing nothing less than a win will be good enough.
The club hierarchy made it clear their ambition was for further progress in this competition when resting a large chunk of the first team, in a much criticised move, for the FA Cup fifth round tie at Chelsea. And outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini, who has come under increased criticism as his side have given up the league title fight with a whimper, will know that failure to secure progress tonight could see his 3-year tenure at the club end sooner than anticipated.
The Chilean manager is still without the services of Samir Nasri, Kevin De Bruyne and Fabian Delph, although evidence suggests all three will be back after the international break, albeit wildly short of match fitness. Despite this, the talent he has at his disposal is more than capable of securing another win, although the fans will be hoping this can be secured early on and with minimal effort, so that a few of the key players can then be rested for the crucial Manchester derby, which could still potentially shape up to be a decider in who secures Champions League qualification for next season. They will also be keen to see if the manager once again keeps faith in Wilfried Bony, despite two highly ineffective performances in his last two games. Personally, I would expect him to go with the same line-up that was so effective over in the Ukraine, with either Fernandinho playing right wing as he did in the first leg, or operating a more central role alongside Fernando, with Yaya given license to roam.
Pellegrini himself has already alluded to the fact that he will approach the game as if the tie is still square at 0-0, although how that translates into the way he sets up and organises his team remains to be seen. When all is considered though, whether City cruise to victory or it is a tight affair, it would be a brave man who bets against them progressing into the next stage, where in typical City fashion there is every likelihood they could be paired to face incoming manager Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich side, assuming they can overcome Juventus tomorrow night.
Probable Starting XI: Hart – Sagna, Clichy, Otameni, Kompany (c) – Fernandinho, Fernando, Yaya Touré – Silva, Sterling, AgüeroShare this: