Match Coverage

Predicted Man City XI vs. Monaco: De Bruyne to drop to bench with extra ball-winner selected

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg football match between Manchester City and Monaco at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on February 21, 2017. / AFP / Oli SCARFF        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester City head to Monaco’s Stade Louis II with a two goal cushion. It’s is a nice cushion to have, but it’s a fluffy and deceptively uncomfortable cushion, especially against an attack as potent as Monaco’s. Falcao looks to be touch-and-go with an injury, but they’ve still got Kylian Mbappé and Valère Germain as striking options.

Team News:

In what’s now become a strangely frequent occurrence, Pep confirmed once again that there are no new injury problems with the squad.

Vincent Kompany has been back in training for around 10 days now and whilst he didn’t make the bench against Boro at the weekend, I’d fully expect him to be in the matchday squad tomorrow night. His experience could be absolutely crucial should we need to close the game out with 10 or 15 minutes to go.

The only other thing with regards to the squad that I think is worth mentioning is that Pep singled-out Fabian Delph in his press conference after the draw with Stoke, “I would like to use more players, like Fabian and other ones. We have so many games so we must rotate.” Now, we’re all guilty of reading too much into what managers say on occasion, but I thought this was particularly poignant. I’ve always thought Delph could play a part under Pep if he managed to stay fit, and if he managed to accumulate minutes – but those are two very big ifs.

De Bruyne to the bench?

Given the quality of our opponent at the weekend (Liverpool) and the fact we have a two goal lead going into this tie, I can’t see Pep playing both Silva and De Bruyne tomorrow night. Whilst not our most creative midfield trio, the Silva-Fernandinho axis with Yaya as the anchor certainly gives us a lot more solidity in midfield. Pep of course has been bullish with his quotes today, suggesting that City must score in order to progress – which I can’t argue with. But he’ll also be very wary of the space we allowed Bernardo Silva in the first leg.

Playing Fernandinho in that slightly more advanced midfield role will give City a better chance of winning the ball high up the pitch; something that could prove decisive given the form and pace of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané. The downside of course will be an over reliance on Silva to create, but I think this could be a wise move – especially given De Bruyne’s form of late, after playing a lot of football this season.

As for the rest of the team, I think we’ll see very few changes from what’s become the norm. Zabaleta played at right-back against Boro, meaning Sagna is likely to be the preferred option. Whilst Clichy’s return to fitness should see him re-installed at left-back, with his mate Aleksandar Kolarov alongside him.

Bearing all that in mind, here’s the team I think Pep will go with:


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