After suffering another setback in the title race with a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Manchester City must now dust themselves down for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie with RB Leipzig on Wednesday evening.
Generally speaking, Pep Guardiola’s side put in a good performance at the City Ground. City dominated possession of the ball and chance creation, but they spurned a host of chances that would have put the result beyond doubt.
There is little Guardiola can do if his attacking talents fail to convert the chances they create, but he could still make a few changes to his starting XI for the meeting with the German side.
On Tuesday, Guardiola confirmed that Kevin de Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte will both miss the match through illness. John Stones remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Here’s how we think Pep will set his team up.
Man City predicted lineup vs RB Leipzig
Ederson will of course start in goal, despite the fact that a growing number of City fans are growing concerned with his shot-stopping abilities of late.
Kyle Walker and Ruben Dias seem likely to retain their places at right-back and centre-back, and Manuel Akanji could come into the side in place of Laporte.
Guardiola recently told reporters that when his team is facing low blocks and need perfect build-up play – as was the case against Forest – , he starts Laporte. However, when he knows City will need to defend a bit more he prefers Dias and Ake.
Bringing Akanji in at centre-back will allow Ake to play as the inverted left-back, offering more solid defensive cover than Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese midfielder put in a shift in the unfamiliar role against Arsenal and Forest, but his defensive fragility was apparent in Forest’s equaliser.
As City have found out last season, Leipzig are an exceptional attacking force, so Guardiola will not want to take any risks at the back.
Rodri will anchor the midfield with either Walker or Ake inverting alongside him. De Bruyne has not travelled with the squad to Germany, so it seems likely that Bernardo and Ilkay Gundogan will start as the number eights.
Erling Haaland will of course start up-front, and given his recent performances, Jack Grealish deserves to start on the left flank. Although Phil Foden played well at the weekend, Riyad Mahrez brings a bit more control that could be important in guarding against Leipzig’s counter-attacking threat.
Predicted lineup: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake; Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo; Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish.