How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Viktoria Plzen
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Manchester City kick off their third Champions League campaign with a trip to the Czech Republic to face Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday night.
But while many (this writer included) associate that country with a nice break in the capital, Prague, taking in the sights and maybe indulging in the local culinary and alcoholic options, the Sky Blues have much more serious matters to attend to.
Namely, getting to the knock-out phase of the competition for the first time. So, who will manager Manuel Pellegrini pick to try to get the campaign off to a good start?
Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic, Aleksandr Kolarov; Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, James Milner; Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko.
Pellegrini made a host of changes for the visit to Stoke, with the Plzen trip in mind no doubt, and now I expect him to revert back in several cases.
Given that managers can often say a player is out for weeks, only for said player to make a miraculous recovery for the next match, there may be a slight chance that Vincent Kompany could be available after the groin problem he picked up against Newcastle.
However the signs are that this won't be the case, so I expect Joleon Lescott to return in place of Javi Garcia, and given Garcia's wobbly displays at centre-back, City fans will welcome that prospect.
Jesus Navas' pace and control should be back after a brief cameo at Stoke, and he can provide the service for Edin Dzeko up front.
The weakest opponents in City's groups should provide the perfect opportunity for Dzeko to fill his boots and boost his confidence after being hauled off at half-time for Alvaro Negredo against Hull.
James Milner will retain his place—if stories of City's "injury crisis" are near the mark.
The Guardian's Jamie Jackson stated that David Silva could miss three games ahead of the Stoke match, so if that's the case I expect Milner to get the nod ahead of Samir Nasri to shore things up on the flank. The France international may get the nod if City have the match in the bag in the second half.
Fernandinho will replace Jack Rodwell. The Brazilian has plenty of European experience from his time at Shakhtar Donetsk, and this will be a good platform for him to show City fans why Pellegrini splashed £30m for him.
Sergio Aguero, named in the City side according to their Twitter feed for a few minutes on Saturday, should return for Stevan Jovetic, who looked off the pace at Stoke.
City need to improve on their listless display at the Britannia Stadium, but they should have too much quality for their Czech opponents on Tuesday night.
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