Man City Vs. Basel preview: Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling set to miss out
Manchester City are still likely to be without midfielder Fernandinho and forward Raheem Sterling for Wednesday’s Champions League clash at home to Basel.
The pair are back in training after hamstring injuries but the second leg of the last-16 tie could come too soon. However, they could both be back in contention for Monday’s Premier League trip to Stoke.
Manchester City won the first leg 4-0 at St. Jakob-Park thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, and Sergio Aguero.
However, Pep Guardiola insists there will be no complacency from his side as they look to confirm their place in the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals, which takes place on Friday, March 16.
“Tomorrow we start again from zero,” the Spaniard said. “In knockout games, you have to look at what you have done in the first game.
“We have to be focused not to make a mistake. If you are focused on what you have to do on set pieces and you control the game, you will go through.
“The Champions League is something special, you have to be focused. But in football, anything can happen.”
Fabian Delph could return at left-back having served a three-game domestic suspension. Benjamin Mendy (knee), sidelined since September, is back in training and could return this month.
Meanwhile, the visitors will give late fitness tests to Eder Balanta and Germano Vailati.
Taulant Xhaka is suspended, while Raoul Petretta, Luca Zuffi, and Renato Steffen could earn recalls to the starting line-up.
No team has ever progressed to the next round following a 0-4 home defeat in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie.
Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 12 Champions League games at the Etihad stadium (W9 D3), winning each of their last four, their longest run on home soil in the competition.
Manchester City have never failed to score in their last 12 Champions League games, also their longest run in the competition.
Basel have won their last two away games in the Champions League (2-0 v CSKA Moscow & Benfica). However, they have lost their two games on the road in the knockout stages of the competition by a combined score of 11-0.
This is Manchester City’s seventh consecutive Champions League participation. They have made it past the Last 16 only once though, it was in 2015/16 when they reached the semi-finals (knocked out by Real Madrid).
Manchester City have scored six goals from corners in this season’s Champions League (33 percent of their total goals), more than any other team.
Ilkay Gundogan has scored two goals (his brace v Basel in the first leg) and assisted two more in his last four Champions League games.
Kevin De Bruyne has delivered four assists in his last six Champions League games after registering only one in his previous 23 games in the competition.
Dimitri Oberlin has scored in each of his last two Champions League away games (v CSKA Moscow & Benfica).
Pep Guardiola has won the Champions League on two occasions as a manager (2009 & 2011, both with Barcelona). A third trophy would equal Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley’s record. He’s also reached the semi-finals in seven of his eight previous seasons as manager but hasn’t made the final since 2011.
Manchester City are four wins from the title, this job is done as well, so Guardiola will feel he can haul the changes, play Phil Foden, Yaya Toure, Gabriel Jesus and Brahim Diaz.
I could see about seven changes, maybe even more with Claudio Bravo coming in, but still no hope for the visitors. City are right back in the groove and people have stopped talking about this phantom fatigue. They’re the team everybody is worried about at the moment.
Pep will be asking the youngsters to prove a point that they’re not scared of stepping up and show they’ll be ready to take their chances between now and the end of the season. He’ll be saying to Toure that he has the chance to walk away from this club at the end of the season with an unbelievable range of medals, so I think he’ll get a response and the victory.
Charlie predicts: 3-1 and Jesus to score first (22/1 with Sky Bet)
Manchester City are just 1/6 with Sky Bet to complete the job with another win, putting Basel up against odds of 18/1 while the draw is priced at 13/2. Pep Guardiola’s men are considered 11/4 favourites to win the Champions League, with Real Madrid (7/2), Bayern Munich (9/2) and Barcelona (5/1) considered their main opposition for the trophy. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus share favouritism in the first goalscorer betting at 5/2 apiece, while Bernardo Silva is enhanced from 6/1 to 8/1 to break the deadlock for a third successive game in Sky Bet’s Price Boosts.