Celtic vs Manchester City: Champions League Preview

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola speaks to the media ahead of the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Manchester City FC at Celtic Park on September 27, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Glasgow giants Celtic vs Manchester City sees a Battle of Britain scenario at Parkhead. Group C of the UEFA Champions League saw 11 goals in total on Matchday 1. Celtic came off worst from these games, shipping seven goals to Barcelona. Premier League leaders City have a 100% record under new manager Pep Guardiola, and few give the Glasgow giants much hope of changing that.

Current Form

City have opened the season with six Premier League wins in a row, ten in all competitions. The form of Sergio Agüero, who already has 11 goals in total, has contributed heavily to this. Their away victories against Stoke City, Manchester United and Swansea City have been particularly impressive.

Celtic have predictably opened up an early gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership. After six games they lead the table by four points, and have a game in hand. So far a 2-2 draw away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle is the only blot on their copybook.

Team News – City

The biggest disappointment for City fans is that Kevin De Bruyne looks set to be absent for a month. The Belgian playmaker, so impressive in the derby win at Old Trafford, is out with a hamstring injury. Spanish forward Nolito, currently serving a domestic ban, or compatriot Jesús Navas could be in line to replace him. Another option is Leroy Sané, who could make only his second start for the Blues. Vincent Kompany is still injured after being substituted in the League Cup tie at Swansea. Former Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph is also out, having missed training on Tuesday.

Sergio Aguero will likely lead the attack, while İlkay Gündoğan, Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling and David Silva provide the supply line. John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi will expect to continue a defensive partnership which has flourished so far this season.

Likely Line-Up: Bravo, Sagna, Otamendi, Stones, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Gündoğan, Sterling, Silva, Sané, Agüero.

Team News – Celtic

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has an issue in the goalkeeping department ahead of Wednesday’s game. Dorus De Vries picked up a knock in the 6-1 weekend victory over Kilmarnock, and will not make the squad. He was replaced by Craig Gordon, who looked short on confidence after coming on. Rodgers has said, however, that he has no qualms in throwing Gordon in the deep end if necessary, having been his first choice for most of this term.

Former City forward Scott Sinclair has had a good start to life at Parkhead. With seven goals so far this season, he is likely to start. Patrick Roberts, on loan to Celtic from the Etihad, could also be in line to feature against his parent club. He will probably start on the bench.

Top goalscorer Moussa Dembélé is likely to start up front. The question Rodgers must ponder is whether to partner him with Leigh Griffiths. The pair have eighteen goals between them already this campaign, but not always as a pair. The likelihood is that he will pack the midfield in order to contain City’s forward line. This would mean starts for Scott Brown, James Forrest, Israel midfielder Nir Britton and Australian Tom Rogic.

Another former City player, Kolo Touré, is likely to begin in defence, having been rested at the weekend. Danish international Erik Sviatchenko is expected to partner him.

Likely Line-Up: C Brown, Lustig, Touré, Sviatchenko, Tierney, Britton, Rogic, S Brown, Forrest, Sinclair, Dembélé.

Matchday 1

Manchester City comfortably disposed of German side Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Etihad. A hat-trick by Sergio Agüero capped off a 4-0 victory for Guardiola’s men. This was not only an impressive victory, but a statement of intent that City intend to be one of the major contenders for the trophy. Performances of this nature will only help to strengthen that view.

While the blue half of Manchester were celebrating, Celtic fans could only watch helplessly as their side missed a golden opportunity. Had Dembélé converted a penalty, his side would have been level at 1-1. As the match played out, Barcelona scored a further six times. It added up to the second biggest defeat in the club’s history, and their worst since 1937. For a club of Celtic’s stature, a 7-0 defeat is unacceptable, even in the Nou Camp.

Final Thought

Celtic vs Manchester City is a match many believe is a forgone conclusion. The Blues are heavy favourites with bookmakers and pundits alike to win this comfortably. This is no surprise given some of the names that they can call upon. When you can leave a player like Yaya Touré out of your Champions League squad, and not even miss him, it shows the strength in depth.

The defeat in Barcelona highlighted just how far Scottish football has fallen between the top European leagues. It was just four years ago that Celtic beat the Catalan giants at Parkhead. They will need the same atmosphere from the home fans, to act as their twelfth man. The crowd cheered them to victory that night. The fact that a repeat performance is not expected might be ideal for the Bhoys.

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