The Champions League knockout stage returns for another year, with reigning champions Manchester City continuing the push to retain their crown with victory over Copenhagen on Tuesday.
The Citizens were perfect in the group stage with maximum points and they will be expected to overcome the Lions, who are appearing in the knockout stage for only the second time in their history after outperforming Galatasaray and Manchester United.
Guardiola won’t underestimate Neestrup’s Lions
Although on paper it seems like the reigning Champions League winners have been handed a weaker opponent than one might expect to come up against in the Round of 16 stage, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola knows better than to underestimate the Lions.
“They had a group against Bayern Munich, United, Galatasaray, one of the toughest groups and they went through,” Guardiola told his club’s official website following his team’s 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday.
“We played two years ago and could not win there. From my experience, the first leg of the last 16 is always tricky. In my experience it’s always difficult except when we won 5-0 against Sporting Lisboa but we had five shots on target and scored five goals.”
Only Bayern Munich have managed to leave Parken with a win in Copenhagen’s last ten home matches in the Champions League with Manchester United, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund and, as the Spanish boss points out himself, Manchester City all failing to emerge victorious in that time.
Copenhagen vs Man City team news
Copenhagen boss Jacob Neestrup will be without Davit Khocholava and Theo Sander for this tie as they both recover from knee injuries, while full-back Birger Meling remains a doubt for Tuesday’s encounter as he struggles to shake off a muscle problem.
Two yellow cards on matchday six for match winner Lukas Lerager means that the midfielder will miss the first leg, with Oscar Hojlund, brother of Manchester United striker Rasmus, a potential option as a replacement.
Pep Guardiola could not be in a better position going into this meeting, with no injury or suspension issues for any of his squad members.
Changes to the starting line-up will be expected considering the strength in depth of Guardiola’s squad, with Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne all potentially returning to the first eleven after making substitute appearances against Everton last time out.
Copenhagen vs Man City Predicted line-ups
Copenhagen: Grabara; Jelert, Diks, Vavro, Ankersen; Falk, Hojlund, Goncalves; Elyounoussi, Claesson, Achouri
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake; Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva; Grealish, Haaland, Foden