Manchester City will be heavy favourites when they take to the pitch at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to face off against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League Group D.
Manuel Pellegrini's Citizens have already secured a berth in the knockout stage, but need to continue winning in order to have a shot at topping Bayern Munich in the group. The reigning Champions League champions beat City 3-1 in Manchester last month, leaving the English giants with very little room for error in the race to finish atop Group D.
But based on how dominant City were in their previous meeting with Plzen, it's likely that the order of finish will be determined on Dec. 10 when the Citizens clash with the Bavarians for the final time.
Plzen, who won the Gambrinus liga (Czech Republic) last season and qualified for the Champions League over the summer, have been dismal through their first four matches, losing all four by a combined score of 12-2. That score includes a 3-0 defeat to City in Plzen two months ago.
With many anticipating another rout, the pressure will fall on City's collective shoulders as they aim to keep pace with the defending champions in Group D.
Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know for Wednesday's Champions League showdown.
Date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Start Time: 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. GMT
Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus (U.S.), Sky Sports (U.K.)
Manchester City: 83.0 percent
Viktoria Plzen: 3.0 percent
Draw: 13.9 percent
*Odds according to Bloomberg Sports.
Top Storyline: Joe Hart Will Return to Goal for Citizens
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart is set to return in between the posts for the Citizens on Wednesday, according to The Daily Mail's Joe Strange.
Hart had been replaced by Romanian goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon for the past three games after some poor performances, including his last time out in a loss to Chelsea. Obviously, there'll be much less pressure on Hart to deliver an impressive performance with City already assured a spot in the knockout stage.
The hope for Pellegrini is that Hart can play well and gain some key confidence from a positive result in front of the home crowd on Wednesday.
Hart recorded a clean sheet in City's 3-0 win over Plzen in September.
Who will win?
Based on Plzen's struggles thus far, City looks like a safe bet to win big at home. Not only has the overmatched Czech side failed to score at a high rate, but they've been unable to keep the ball out of their own net.
Against Pellegrini's offensive juggernaut, that's a recipe for disaster.
You've got to love City's chances of coming away with three points from this match. Pavel Vrba's squad has little to play for other than pride at this point while City are in a two-club race for first in Group D.
The location and stakes favour the Citizens, and barring an inexplicable performance from Hart in goal, it seems the home team is poised to turn in a winning performance on Wednesday.
Manchester City 2, Viktoria Plzen 0
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