Manchester City will look to reach the Champions League quarter-finals when they take on Schalke at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
The first leg in Germany ended 3-2, as Raheem Sterling scored a late winner for City in a topsy-turvy encounter. Schalke were leading 2-1 at a point, but Leroy Sane and Sterling gave Pep Guardiola’s side a slender advantage heading into the second leg. Domenico Tedesco’s Schalke side troubled City at times, and he will be hopeful of causing an upset.
City warmed up for the clash with a 3-1 home win over Watford, as Sterling netted a hat-trick. Guardiola is taking nothing for granted even though City are favorites to progress. “What happened in the first game can happen in the second one,” he said. “So that’s why it doesn’t change too much what we have to do. We still have work to do.”
His side went out at this stage in 2017 to Monaco, and Liverpool knocked them out last season in the quarter-finals. Guardiola last reached the Champions League final in 2011, but he has reached the semi-finals four times.
City will be without midfielder Fernandinho, who is nursing a groin injury. The Brazilian is an essential piece on the pitch, and he will be missed. Ilkay Gundogan should deputize in his absence. Kevin De Bruyne is another midfielder who is injured, and the two Silvas should retain their place in the lineup. Aymeric Laporte could make his return, as John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are absent due to injury and suspension respectively.
Manchester City vs Schalke Prediction and Preview
Schalke are on a poor run of form, and a win at the Etihad would boost their season massively. Werder Bremen beat them 4-2 on Friday, which puts them in 14th place in the Bundesliga. They need to score at least two goals to go through, which is a tough ask to begin with. Schalke have won only one of their last Champions League knockout matches, losing seven of them. Guardiola himself has not lost to them as a manager in seven previous meetings, winning two of them.
Being solid defensively will be key for City, as they have the attacking ammunition to break any team. They panicked and made rash decisions in the first leg, and the inclusion of Laporte will help to amend that. Many think that progress in the Champions League is necessary for Guardiola in City after his side broke numerous records on their way to the Premier League title last season.
Schalke will come with a conservative game-plan, and City will be expected to dominate the ball. City’s Champions League games against Guardiola have always been filled with goals, and more of the same would be a treat for neutrals.
City have too much going forward for Schalke to handle, and their cushion of three away goals should see them through. The game could start slowly but develop into a frantic one, which should give way for plenty of goals.