Manchester City May Find It More Difficult Than Many Expect Against FC Basel Tonight
Sergio Aguero’s four goals against Leicester had been coming. Many fans had questioned his (lack of) movement against Burnley and it looked to be going the same way in the opening 45 minutes on Saturday.
But that is usually about the time Aguero responds and somebody cops for it. This time it was Leicester and the hapless Kasper Schmeichel. Any thoughts of a slip up from Pep Guardiola’s men have been swiftly forgotten as they retain their 16 point lead at the top. Six more wins clinches it.
But Guardiola’s thoughts will not have been on the United result on Sunday – it will have been on his side’s away trip to Switzerland.
City face FC Basel on Tuesday night and while it was without doubt a favourable draw for City, Guardiola will not be taking the fixture lightly, especially given both Manchester United and Liverpool have faltered there in the past.
But the Swiss champions are struggling. For the first time in many years they are not running away with their domestic league and currently sit second, five points behind Young Boys of Bern.
Basel’s manager Raphaël Wicky is under pressure and is a young inexperienced coach. Coupled with this was the loss of their star centre back, Manuel Akanji, who joined Borussia Dortmund for around 18 million euros last month.
So City will be confident of avoiding an upset but St. Jakob-Park is never an easy place to play, especially on European nights.
Basel finished above both CSKA Moscow and Benfica in Manchester United’s group and are often at their most dangerous when underestimated.
City are likely to field a similar side to that which beat Leicester, with only the centre back pairing likely to change and possibly Danilo coming in at left back for Oleks Zinchenko.
Aymeric Laporte and Nicholas Otamendi started against Leicester so it may be that Vincent Kompany and John Stones get the nod in the Champions League.
However, Guardiola’s preferred pairing of Stones and Otamendi may well be on the team sheet come kick off.
The game is probably too early for either Leroy Sane or Gabriel Jesus to feature so Guardiola will be buoyed by Aguero and Sterling’s return to goalscoring form at the weekend.
While most fans will expect City to record a resounding win, Guardiola would be happy with a score draw to take back to the Etihad in three weeks’ time.