The final match of the group stage in the Champions League delivers Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic side to the Etihad later today.
Recently crowned winners of the Scottish League Cup for the gazillionth time, the Buoys will doubtless arrive with their tails in the air ready to give the weak livered saccenachs a good kicking in the Trossachs. Their spirits will have been raised at the weekend by showing the determination it takes to recover from being behind twice in a game to come out as winners after they defeated Motherwell 3-4 and knowing that they face a City side potentially shaken by their defeat to Chelsea and the events which marred the end of that game. The exposure of the City defenders to swift counter attacks will not have gone unnoticed I am sure.
Matter relating to the City defeat are discussed elsewhere on VMC so won’t be dwelt on here except to say that with Aguero and Fernandinho facing lengthy domestic bans after the fracas at the end of the game at the Etihad on Saturday, their involvement in this fixture might now be more likely.
Doubtless the Celtic fans will be making their presence known in the South Stand probably many of them without their shirts on because they don’t feel the cold being from even further north than City fans. Once the home crowd have finished delivering their now traditional welcome to the UEFA Champions League anthem they will need to make sure they raise some noise to drown them out.
As far as matters on the pitch are concerned, having already qualified for the knockout round of the competition and being unable to overtake Barcelona to claim top spot Pep is expected to ring the changes and give some highly valuable experience to the younger members of the squad. Whilst a morale boosting thumping would be very welcome for the home fans there may need to be a more pragmatic view taken regarding the names that emerge from Pep`s Tactical Sorting Hat. With the traditionally draining festive round of fixtures rapidly approaching some of the more senior members of the team might well be given a night off altogether. After all if any of Fernandinho, Aguero or De Bruyne to name but three picked up an injury in what is effectively a dead rubber I am pretty sure Guardiola would be slated by many City fans. Cries of ‘why did you play him when the result didn’t matter?’ would be littering the Interweb, Twitface and Instasnap or whatever it is the youngsters use these days.
Iheanacho, Garcia, Maffeo etc. might well be eying this one up and selecting their favourite boots. Perhaps even an outing for Angus Gunn might be on the cards?
Celtic arrive boasting a decent domestic record. Apart from keeping a clean sheet the League Cup against Aberdeen last weekend to win the League Cup they haven’t conceded a goal away from home in domestic competition since the mid-September. That situation changes when it comes to the Champions League however where they have shipped 12 goals (7 of those were against Barcelona) and only managed to find their opponents net twice. One of those was against the mighty FC Astana, the other against Borussia M.Gladbach and that was from the penalty spot. However travelling down to Manchester is a different prospect to playing away in Spain, Germany or Israel so they may not quite feel as much ‘fish out of water’ as they did in previous away matches in this competition.
For Celtic City old boy Scott Sinclair is unavailable through injury which is bound to be a disappointment for the lad who probably feels that he had a point to prove? The potential for current City loanee Patrick Roberts to feature is an intriguing prospect. He scored at the weekend and will be eager to show his parent club his worth.
City may be able to field Fabian Delph for the first time since the home fixture in this competition against Steaua when he scored the only goal of the game. Let’s hope he makes it and enjoys being back in a City shirt in a competitive match. Kompany remains sidelined following his unfortunate knee ligament injury picked up at Selhurst Park.
Come On City!!!
Out – Kompany
Out – Tierney; Sinclair
CL Group Standing & Form
02 Man City P5 W2 D1 L1 GF11 GA9 GD+2 Pts8 Form WDLWD
04 Celtic P5 W0 D2 L2 GF4 GA15 GD-11 Pts2 Form LDLDL
Man City P24 W10 D2 L3 GF35 GA19
Celtic P28 W19 D4 L5 GF65 GA33
Previous meeting (last 3 matches)
UCL 29/09/16 Celtic 3 Man City 3
ICF 08/08/09 Man City 2 Celtic 1
ICF 06/08/08 Celtic 1 Man City 1
Goals – City 6 Celtic 5
Y Cards – City 0 Celtic 0
R Cards – City 0 Celtic 0
Top scorers (all comps)
Manchester City – Aguero 16; Sterling 5; Nolito 5 Gundogan 5
Celtic – Dembele 12; Griffiths 9; Sinclair 9
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