Returning to his former stomping ground without a shred of sentiment, Pep Guardiola leads his Manchester City team out for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night.
The Premier League champions board their flight to Germany with a 3-0 advantage under their belts from last week’s first leg, where Thomas Tuchel’s Bavarian baptism of fire continued.
Following a disagreement on the Etihad pitch, attacking duo Mane and Sane were involved in an astonishing dressing room bust-up – where the former purportedly left his teammate with a swollen lip from a punch – and he was dropped from the squad to face Hoffenheim at the weekend.
However, Tuchel has confirmed that the Senegal international will return to the squad for the second leg, which is more than can be said for long-term absentees Manuel Neuer (leg) and Lucas Hernandez (ACL), while youngsters Paul Wanner (jaw) and Gabriel Marusic (ACL) are out of contention too.
On a more positive note, striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – an unlikely success story with 17 goals this season – is back in training following a knee injury, but it remains to be seen if he will be given the green light to start the second leg.
Regarding the travelling contingent, Guardiola only has one absent player to work around in the shape of Phil Foden, who continues to recover from appendix surgery but is on course to return before the end of the month.
Having seen his players put Leicester to the sword before the half-time whistle blew, Guardiola once again denied Haaland a hat-trick by bringing him off at half time, while Stones, Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne were also brought off early doors in anticipation for the second leg.
With 11 continental goals to his name so far, one more strike for Haaland on Wednesday would draw him level with Ruud van Nistelrooy for the most Champions League goals in a single campaign by a Premier League player – the Dutchman netted 12 for Manchester United in 2002-03.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Pavard, Upamecano, De Ligt, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Musiala, Coman; Choupo-Moting
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Ake; Stones, Rodri; Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland
Prediction: Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester City (Man City win 5-1 on aggregate)
Rival territory was not kind to Man City during the group stages, and Bayern’s affinity for goals at the Allianz Arena should at least lead to a flicker of hope for Tuchel’s side, which may quickly be extinguished.
The Champions League-winning nous in Bayern’s ranks counted for nought at the Etihad, and it should be a similar story against Man City’s well-rested and goal-happy crop, as they stroll into the final four with a comprehensive beating of the Bavarians.