In a game that would have been targeted as the easiest fixture of the group now has added significance as Manchester City host CSKA Moscow in the 4th round of Champions League group stage needing a victory.
Manchester City’s problems in Europe have been a consistent theme during the new era at the blue of side of Manchester. The sharp growth in their stature meant that City’s co-efficient was low and ranked them as fourth seeds almost guaranteeing the hardest group possible. Happening again this season with Bayern and Roma being major tests for the English club means the matches against CSKA Moscow should result in 6 points – but the away tie saw City drop 2 points after conceding a 2-0 lead. Confidence looked a problem in the final stages of the Manchester derby as they held on in the final moments for the win after 3 consecutive matches without a win before the weekend and the big players in the City side will need to step up.
CSKA Moscow will have been seen as the underdogs in the group, but Russian teams have always provided tough tests for Europe’s elite in recent years – particularly at home. City found this out themselves, while Bayern won by a single goal in a tight affair. The Russian side’s only away tie in the Champions League will be a sign of encouragement for Manchester City though with CSKA’s trip to Italy saw Roma run out 5-1 winners. They also travel to the north of England after the disappointment of losing to title rivals Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 that opened up a 7 point gap between the pair.
Despite the disappointing run of the form that plagued City’s October, there was the bright spark of Aguero returning to fitness and ultimately top form.
The Argentine striker has 10 goals to his name in league – including an incredible 4-goal haul against Tottenham – and 2 in the Champions League. Scoring a goal per 74 minutes on average in all competitions, and a goal every 70 minutes in the league – to show how impressive Aguero’s form is Suarez, last season’s top goalscorer, had a record of a goal every 96 minutes. This level of clinical finishing will need to be on show on Wednesday night to kill off the game and obtain 3 important points ahead of a trip to Rome.
Before the last fixture between the two teams two weeks ago, Musa claimed that CSKA Moscow would take advantage of Manchester City’s “very weak” defence and in the second half he proved to be a danger himself by assisting the first goal.
The main asset the Nigerian striker has is pace and City have shown that they are open to counter attacks so far this season with the goals conceded against Chelsea and Stoke. With 7 goals in all competitions, and one in the Champions League against Roma, Musa will want to add to that total and cause more problems for City on Wednesday.
- Both of these sides faced each other in last season’s competition and this fixture saw Manchester City run out 5-2 victors over the Russian side.
- In their last 5 matches in all competitions Manchester City have scored 8 goals, but conceded 7 with their defence looking uncertain at times and has cost the team.
Manchester City have no new injury concerns from the weekend’s derby and could welcome back Mangala who missed Sunday’s match with a muscle injury. Silva, Kolarov, and Lampard however are not yet ready to return to action and look set to miss out.
There will likely be nerves around the Etihad due to the importance of getting a result and City will need the vocal support that isn’t always present on European nights due to fans being priced out of a ticket. The quality of the City side should shine through though and see them pick up the win. Nevertheless, how comfortable that win is down to Pellegrini’s choice of who to partner Kompany in defence and the midfield system that would work best against CSKA Moscow.