Premier League giants, Manchester City host Swiss side FC Basel, this Wednesday, in the second leg of the Round 16 tie in the UEFA Champions League 2017/18.
The Swiss side need nothing short of a miracle to progress through the tie as they face a tall order of turning a four-goal deficit from the first leg, after losing the first leg 4-0 at home. No team has ever progressed to the next round following a 0-4 defeat in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie.
In the first leg, goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero in between a brace from Ilkay Gundogan ensured an emphatic win for the English side. As much as the scoreline suggests, the first leg was one of the most one-sided game in the knockout stages in the history of the competition. Pep Guardiola’ side saw almost 75% of the ball, completed more than 500 passes compared to Basel and won twice as many corners.
After the first leg, Manchester City have won two of their three matches in all competitions, losing the other one game against Wigan Athletic in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Meanwhile, Basel lost both of their games with a scoreline of 2-0 since the first leg, which was just over two weeks ago.
Manchester City are unbeaten in their previous 12 Champions League games at the Etihad Stadium, winning nine and drawing three. The Sky Blues have found victory in each of their last four home games, their longest run in the competition. Also, City have scored six goals from corners in this season’s Champions League, more than any other team.
On the other hand, Basel have won their last two away games in the Champions League; 0-2 win over CSKA Moscow and a 0-2 win against Benfica. However, they have lost their only two away games in the knockout stages of the competition with an aggregate score of 11-0.
This is Manchester City’s seventh consecutive Champions League participation. However, they have made it past the Last 16 only once, which was in the 2015/16 season when they were knocked out in the semi-finals by the eventual winners Real Madrid.
Pep Guardiola has won this European competition on two occasions as a coach, both with Barcelona. A third trophy would equal Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley’s record. The City Manager has reached the semi-finals in seven of his eight previous seasons as a manager. However, he has no made it to the final since 2011.
Players to Watch
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Belgian play-maker, Kevin De Bruyne has been sensational in the center of midfield for Man City this season. The 26-year-old has provided a league-high 14 assists in the Premier League. De Bruyne has delivered four assists in his last six Champions League games.
Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)
Ilkay Gundogan has scored two goals and provided two assists in his last four Champions League appearances. The midfielder is expected to be a constant goal threat with his late but well-timed runs into the box.
Dimitri Oberlin (Basel)
Midfielder Dimitri Oberlin has been a goal threat from the midfield for Basel all through the season. The Swiss international has scored four goals in the league this season. Oberlin has scored in each of his last two Champions League away games.
Long-term absentee Benjamin Mendy is expected to be back no sooner than the first week of April. Fernandinho is carrying a hamstring injury. He is a doubt for this game.
Kyle Walker is doubtful for this game due to his calf injury. Raheem Sterling is also doubtful to play. He is carrying a hamstring injury.
Eder Alvarez is injured, and he is unlikely to feature against City. Germano Vailati is out due to his shoulder injury. Taulant Xhaka is out suspended.
Man City vs Basel Lineups ( Predicted XI)
Man City Lineup (4-3-3)
Defense: Danilo (RB), Laporte (RCB), Stones (LCB), Delph (LB)
Midfield: De Bruyne (RCM), Gundogan (CM), Silva (LCM)
FC Basel Lineup (4-4-2)
Defense: Lang (RB), Lacroix (RCB), Suchy (LCB), Petretta (LB)
Midfield: Stocker (RM), Die (RCM), Zuffi (LCM), Elyounoussi (LM)
Manchester City vs Basel Prediction
The tie is all but done and dusted even before the start of the second leg on Wednesday. Even the optimistic of Basel fans will not expect their team to turn a four-goal deficit in Manchester. However, the Swiss side will be playing for their pride and will be looking to make the second leg more competitive than the first one.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been in relentless goalscoring form at home. In the Premier League, City have scored 50 goals in just 14 home games this season, averaging just above three and a half goals per game. We expect this City side to score at least a couple of goals on Wednesday. Our prediction for this game is a 3-0 Manchester City win.