It's a tough battle for Group A, with Manchester City, Bayern Munich and threatening dark horse candidate SSC Napoli all looking strong. This week, City and Bayern Munich face off for a shot at the top of the group, both sides coming off of shutout victories in league play this weekend.
Coming into Tuesday night's matchup in Munich, it is Jupp Heynckes' side with the advantage in Champions League competition experience, home field and with the sole Group A victory so far, after their 2-0 triumph over Villarreal in the opening round. The German side has a stellar home record against English visitors—their sole defeat in 15 matches came in 1993 at the hands of Norwich City. But Champions League newcomers City will be no slouches with the likes of David Silva, Sergio Agüero and Edin Dzeko ready to break through Bayern's tough defense.
Read on for projected lineups, injury reports, match-day considerations and more.
Following a cracking performance against Everton and an excellent late-in-the-game goal, James Milner showed he can contribute significantly to City's attack and should be a candidate to be included in the first team for tomorrow's matchup at the Allianz. He could be a formidable addition alongside the likes of Yaya Touré and play-makers Samir Nasri and David Silva.
Choosing a starting left-back will be difficult—Gael Clichy is the more obvious choice, but after Aleksandar Kolarov gave such a strong performance in the last round of league play and saved City from defeat at the hands of SSC Napoli, it's clear both would be effective in the position.
Expect a rejuvenated Mario Balotelli to make a second-half appearance for City.
Player to Watch: David Silva is eager for a Champions League win after the draw with Napoli, and will be keen to pull out all the stops when it comes to City's offense. His persistence, versatility and ability to connect with the rest of Roberto Mancini's strong attacking cavalry will seek to wear down Bayern's strong defense.
Predicted Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Hart; Kolarov/Clichy, Kompany, Lescott, Richards; Milner, Yaya Touré; Nasri, Silva, Dzeko; Agüero
The Bavarians are welcoming a handful of players back from injuries, among them Daniel Van Buyten, striker Mario Gómez and Arjen Robben, who had been out since August and returned over the weekend to score in Bayern's 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern will bolster their defense and play up the versatility of their midfield with a 4-5-1 formation or something similar, with Gómez acting as sole striker and the likes of Ribéry and Müller backing him up on the attack. Expect a returning Robben to come in for Mario Gómez at some point and try for another goal to match the one against Leverkusen:
Player to Watch: Don't call it a comeback—he's been here for years. French international Franck Ribéry is enjoying a resurgence so far this season, giving a stellar performance in Bayern's competition opener victory over Villarreal, and has been linking up well with Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller, for whom he set up a great goal against Leverkusen over the weekend. Expect him to continue his hot streak and make things difficult for Manchester City.
Predicted Starting XI (4-5-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, Lahm, Van Buyten; Gustavo, Schweinsteiger, Ribéry, Müller, Tymoshchuk; Gómez
Further Match-day Considerations:
+ Road to Recovery: Many of Bayern's key players are just getting back after recovering from injuries. Arjen Robben, who had been benched since August with a pelvic injury, returned to the Bundesliga this weekend, and scored a goal in the final minutes of the match to put Bayern Munich up 3-0 over Bayer Leverkusen.
+ Force and Fortress: This matchup is a battle of a stellar offensive side versus a stellar defensive side: with apologies to comedian David Mitchell, as the 'irresistible force' of City meet the 'immovable object' of Bayern Munich.
City has pulled some high-volume wins thanks to the likes of Edin Džeko, Sergio Agüero and playmaker David Silva. Even the ever-controversial Mario Balotelli, who was having some trouble getting into the first team with the rise of Džeko and Agüero, is starting to hit his stride this season, scoring a great goal in this weekend's 2-0 victory over Everton, and as Roberto Mancini has praised his finishing skills, he may return to cause problems for the Bundesliga side as a substitute.
But Bayern has one of the best keepers in the world in Manuel Neuer, who had a brilliant run in last year's Champions League competition with Schalke 04 and will likely repeat it with his new side, not to mention an on-fire Philipp Lahm and a versatile midfield.
Bayern Munich: Ivica Olić (hip), Breno (knee surgery), Holger Badstuber (ill)
Manchester City: James Milner (concussion), Nigel de Jong (ankle/foot)