This is the latest installment of Bayern Munich and Manchester City duel. For many pundits it’s the established against the upcoming or as others say, the serial Champions League finalists up against the group stage enthusiasts.
In a sense Bayern Munich are what Manchester City aspire to be – a storied European powerhouse with a rich history and a bright future. It therefore makes sense that games against Bayern are becoming a marker for measuring the progress of City, and whether they can actualization their European dream. However, they both go into this game as champions of their respective leagues, with an equal head-to-head record of two wins each, so there will be no fear in the Manchester City players’ eyes on Wednesday night when they step onto the pitch in the Bavarian capital.
Like Arsenal and Borrussia Dortmund, City and Bayern must be sick of seeing each other in the group stages of the Champions League. However, Dortmund just ran riot over Arsenal, and Bayern will be hoping to do the same to keep the flag flying high for the German teams. They will have to do so without the services of Franck Ribery, although there is a possibility that Arjen Robben will be available. Both players will be huge losses, as they have been crucial to the way Bayern play over recent seasons, providing an injection of pace and power in the final third that Pep Guardiola’s patient style of play needs in order to be truly effective.
That being said, in Robert Lewandowski they have a proven predator that loves to hunt on European nights, and the recently shaky Joe Hart could be in for a busy night. The City goalkeeper has not had a good time against Bayern, and he will need to be better than his recent best to peg back Lewandowski and the underrated but effective Thomas Muller at the Allianz arena.
City has so far had an indifferent start to the season, beating Liverpool, losing to Stoke City and scraping for a draw with Arsenal, after having lost 3-0 to them in the Community Shield.
They will be hoping for much better than a lukewarm performance against the Bavarian giants. Manuel Pellegrini, their coach, will be serving the second of his two game touchline ban, a remnant from his ill-advised decision to criticize the referee after the round of 16 match against Barcelona last season. His presence will be missed and should not be underestimated, especially away from home. Tactical tweaks in the middle of the frenetic action can make or break a game, and the Citizens will be missing their chief tactician.