Manchester City face their biggest game of the season so far on Wednesday as they welcome Tottenham to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final. They will need to overturn a one-goal deficit, following Son Heung-min’s winner last week. It was a strange affair, as Pep Guardiola’s men offered less attacking threat than usual, which gave a chance to their hosts. Although Spurs lead, it is a narrow one and the home side will be confident that they can progress.
Pep Guardiola is known as one of the best coaches in Europe and his reputation is deserved. However, he hasn’t won the Champions League since 2011 and has failed to win the competition outside of Barcelona. That does leave him open for criticism when discussing the best coaches in the game. He must scratch that itch with Manchester City. This team is at the peak of its powers and it seems the perfect time for them to lift this trophy for the first time in the club’s history. Although it won’t be easy, the pressure is on them to win on Wednesday.
Tottenham have no pressure on them in this tie, with that freedom being evident in their approach last week. They were the better team and coped with the setback of losing Harry Kane. Mauricio Pochettino will wish that he had his first choice striker available this week, but there is no reason to believe they can’t complete the job without him. They managed to keep a clean sheet last week, leaving them an opportunity to benefit from the away goals rule. It would be foolish to try to defend for a 0-0 on Wednesday. They need to be positive, as a goal would put them into the driver’s seat in the tie.
The England international has had an excellent season, building on the consistency he has shown in previous years. There is no doubting he has received benefits from working under Pep Guardiola. It would be great to see him establish himself on the European stage with a tie-winning performance on Wednesday night. The stage is set for him, following his brace against Crystal Palace at the weekend. He showed his finishing ability on that day, in addition to an impressive mentality following an early missed chance. In the Champions League, he has contributed three goals and two assists in nine matches. There is more to come from the attacker and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it against Tottenham.
The signing of Son Heung-min has been one of the best made in the Premier League during recent seasons. He continues to get better and better under Pochettino. It has now reached a point that he becomes the key man in the absence of Harry Kane. Against Huddersfield on Saturday, he was rested, which underlined how important he is to the team. That decision made it clear that the club believe him to be their main hope of progression. The state of the tie means that Manchester City will have to attack. This will leave space and opportunity for the visitors to do damage on the counter-attack. They will want any big chances to fall to the South Korean.
- Fernandinho is facing a battle to be passed fit. It would be a huge blow for the home side if the midfielder doesn’t make it. On the other hand, Bernardo Silva should be deemed fit to start.
- Dele Alli is expected to be okay to feature, despite suffering a hand injury last week. Harry Winks and Fernando Llorente are both doubts for the visitors. Meanwhile, Harry Kane will miss out.
This game could go either way. Despite their domestic dominance, Manchester City were knocked out by Premier League opposition last year and history could repeat itself. There will be more goals in this fixture, as both teams know that they need to score. The home side are rightly favourites, despite their current deficit in the tie. However, Tottenham have provided their best moments of the season in this competition and will be looking to make it through to the semi-finals for the first time in Champions League history. It would be a surprise if they managed to do that, which is why I am tipping the home side to progress, just.
Manchester City 3-1 Tottenham