It’s Champions League time once again as the last 16 is back and the second round of fixtures commences.
Last week we saw the first eight teams compete, with some thrilling fixtures to take us through to the second leg and this week we’ll be hoping for more of the same – as Premier League leaders Manchester City take on Germany’s surprise package Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Pep Guardiola’s side are currently riding a 17 game win streak in all competitions and have pulled away at the top of the Premier League with a ten point lead over Manchester United and Leicester behind them. Gladbach are fighting for a return to Europe’s premier competition next season, with Marco Rose’s side currently in eighth and nine points off the top four.
After plenty of speculation is was confirmed last week that Rose will leave Gladbach at the end of the season to join Borussia Dortmund, but he has promised to fight to leave his current side in the best position possible. They face probably the toughest task in Europe right now though to stop a Manchester City side who are in cruise control and beating everyone that steps in their path.
City have found themselves not only as a free-flowing attacking outfit, but now also one that can hold on to a 1-0 lead and not even think of letting it slip since the addition of Ruben Dias in the summer and the resurgence of John Stones into the starting lineup.
Ilkay Gundogan has found some incredible goalscoring form since December to lead their scoring charts while Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva all stepped up massively in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian is now back from injury too, as is Sergio Aguero, so Guardiola has a near fully-fit squad to choose from.
As for Gladbach, they have won just twice in their last six in all competitions and look open defensively. Going forward they’ve struggled too, with just 38 goals scored in their 22 fixtures domestically. In the Champions League group stages earlier this season they were a different kettle of fish though, scoring 16 times in their six games to pip Inter Milan to a place in this round.
Marcus Thuram, Alessane Plea and Lars Stindl will lead the line and will all need to be on top form if they are to cause City any sort of problems in the form they are currently in.
For City, they’ll be looking to keep it business as usual. They’ve been at their brilliant best over the last few months and it’s probably fair to say they’re the best team in the world right now. Guardiola has managed his squad exceptionally well, to the point where they have scored 83 goals in all competitions so far and Sergio Aguero doesn’t have a single one.
Their lineup currently picks itself for the most part, which says a lot considering the manager’s love for rotation. All in all, it’s hard to see anything but a comfortable win for City over the two legs.
Gladbach 0-2 Man City
Man City 3-0 Gladbach
(Man City to progress 5-0 on aggregate)