When Manchester City meets Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday, the two clubs will have quite different aspirations.
The Citizens will surely have an eye on winning the entire tournament, lofty as those expectations might be given their past difficulties, while Plzen will be quite pleased just to have reached the group stage, just their second foray into the Champions League in their history.
Their reward is an opening fixture at home against the Premier League giants and a group that includes last year's European champions, Bayern Munich.
Welcome back to the Champions League, Plzen.
When: Tuesday, September 17 at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. BST)
Where: Struncovy Sady, Plzen, Czech Republic
Odds: Manchester City (69.8 percent), Viktoria Plzen (9.1 percent), draw (21 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
For Manchester City, the sting of being eliminated from the tournament in the group stage last season surely remains, as the Citizens failed to win a single game in a group of death that included Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax Amsterdam.
Add in an early-season loss to newly-promoted Cardiff City and a draw against Stoke City, and you have a Manchester City team that will enter this game with the intent to maim, figuratively speaking.
The return of Vincent Kompany will surely be a pleasant sight for City, as the team has been a bit banged up to start the season. However, David Silva will likely not be available. Thankfully, City does not exactly lack for attacking depth.
For Plzen, keep an eye on burly centre-back Marian Cisovsky, who will surely have his work cut out against the dangerous Citizens, and winger Frantisek Rajtoral, whose darting runs forward could trouble the City defense.
It's time for Manchester City to exorcise their Champions League demons. Last year's campaign was a disaster, but this year the group (outside of Bayern Munich) is more favorable.
Traveling to Plzen will be no easy task, and the Czech side shouldn't be underestimated. But let's be honest here—City is the superior side, and they should come away with three points.
Plzen will give them a scare, however. Manchester City win, 2-1.
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