FC Bayern v Manchester City Preview – The Toughest Match of the Season So Far?

One can arguably say “yes” as our FC Bayern come face to face with the tycoons of Manchester City tomorrow Tuesday at 14:45 EST / 20:45 CET on day 2 of the Group stage of the European Champions League. The game will be transmitted live in Canada by Setanta Sports

The road to the final in Munich gets to pass through Munich this time. The encounter v FC Zuerich in the Qualifying Round was only a prologue to what promises to be a long journey towards that much sought final on home soil on a Saturday evening in May

A word about Manchester City first

English football fanatics will know it is only their second participation in the European Cup/Champions League ever since 1968! After going through long decades of misery, relegation (even to 3rd division) & endless board turmoil, the Citizens are not only now seeking stability in the office and on the pitch, but they intend to become one of the most dominating forces in England, with views of being in Europe too. They are already the most serious threat to their neighbours Man Utd.  Manager & former Italian international Mancini has brought his valuable experience as a player & manager acquired during spells at Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Lazio, Inter, in addition to a short stint with Leicester City where he put a term to his playing career. Upon taking over from Mark Hughes in December 2009, he ensured obtaining all the guarantees enabling him to run the club the way he sees fit on and off the pitch. And with the club owned since September 2008 by Abu-Dhabi Group Investment & Development Ltd, the sky is the limit to obtain all the players he want to achieve his dreams of sitting on the top of England & Europe. Just judge by the list & quality of players, he can adopt the system he wants pending what team the opposition is fielding: Aguero, Barry, Nasri, Lescott, Kompany, David Silva, Tevez, Clichy, Balotelli, Dzeko, A Johnson, & Hart, their prodigy keeper… Every position is doubled not to say tripled with quality players.

Some will say Manchester City is the next Chelsea, yet they have watched & learnt from their London colleagues. An adept of the Catenaccio school, Mancini will be looking into a very solid display, getting at least a point against an offensive-style Bayern side. He can even afford to leave Dzeko on the bench and align Milner as an extra defensive midfielder for protection & quick counters – not to mention of having Tevez as a starter… Balotelli is suspended & Adam Johnson is injured. While our old Canadian acquaintance Owen Hargreaves is not registered in Europe.

Now about FC Bayern

No doubt, Jupp Heynckes & our players will be facing the toughest challenge of the season so far against a block of individual talents who play collectively well.  The way we have been dominating at the domestic level makes one wonder if we are really strong & a much improved side compared to last season, or whether the opposition is not competitive enough. Nine games and 738 minutes of invincibility bring all sort of questions. Do we play quick & offensive trying to control the game from the start with an early goal, or apply a watch and wait tactic? There is no better place with 63,000 supporters roaring behind your back, and Heynckes has instilled the defensive reflex in his players. How many times do we see now Gomez & Ribery clearing the ball in defensive situations?

A major headache our manager has to deal with tomorrow is the uncertaininty of Holger Badstuber who is down with a cold flu. This will likely mean van Buyten reuniting in defence with Boateng against their former club mates of Man City. The other question is what to do with Robben on the bench & when to bring him on if need be. We may have noticed our players had lifted their pace a bit v Leverkusen in the 2nd-half, saving energy for Tuesday. The key will be to focus, take initiative & apply pressure to collect all 3 points & dominate the group early

An exciting game in perspective!

Expected line-ups:

FCB: Neuer – Rafinha, Boateng, van Buyten, Lahm – Gustavo, Schweinsteiger – Mueller, Kroos, Ribery – Gomez

Man City: Hart – Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy – Toure, Barry – Silva, Milner, Nasri – Aguero

Referee: V Kassai (Hungary)