Ahead of City’s second Champions League group clash with Borussia Monchengladbach, we examine five players to be wary of on Wednesday night.
It’s been a mixed start to the season for the German outfit, who qualified for club football’s most prestigious competition via an impressive third place finish in last year’s Bundesliga.
Things haven’t been so rosy this time around though, and they slipped into the relegation zone after suffering defeat in their five opening Bundesliga matches.
Manager Lucien Favre resigned, but since then they’ve picked up some form – winning their last two matches and scoring seven goals, including a 3-1 win over Stuttgart this weekend just before City come to town.
Here are five players who could damage Manuel Pellegrini’s hopes of victory in Borussia Park…
A 22-year-old Switzerland international, Granit Xhaka was one of the biggest reasons that Borussia Monchengladbach were able to snag a Champions League berth last term.
An influential midfielder, he has worn the captain’s armband for the last two games, and despite his youth his determination and swashbuckling style enable him to effectively dictate games from the centre of the park.
Signed from Basel in 2012 to replace the departing Marco Reus, he had a difficult start to life in Germany, but has since shown his potential and last season completed the fourth-highest number of passes in the Bundesliga – behind Bayern Munich trio Xabi Alonso, David Alaba and Jerome Boateng.
Now said to be interesting the German Champions, he has scored in each of the last two victories.
After signing one former Chelsea player who made his name in the Bundesliga once leaving Stamford Bridge in Kevin De Bruyne, City will be wary of another with the potential to do the same.
Younger brother of Eden, Thorgan Hazard signed permanently for Borussia Monchengladbach in February 2015 after impressing on loan from Chelsea during the first half of the season, and will have a point to prove against Premier League opposition.
Virtually an ever-present last term with ten assists and five goals in 38 appearances, the Belgian is a set piece specialist and loves to pick out a defence splitting pass from either attacking midfield or on the wing.
A new boy to the team after switching from Hannover 96 in the summer, Lars Stindl is settling in well and added his fourth goal of the season in the win over FC Augsburg last week.
A reliable and steadying influence in midfield, he keeps Monchengladbach ticking in centre midfield alongside Xhaka but also has the ability to excite and get the crowd off their seats - he picked up 11 goals and four assists for Hannover last season despite missing the first third of the year with a knee ligament injury.
After clocking up over 150 appearances for his former club and winning the captain’s job before making the switch to Monchengladbach, he announced his arrival in style with two goals and an assist in August’s cup clash with FC Pauli.
A Brazilian attacking midfielder, Raffael moved to Switzerland as a youngster and has been in Borussia since 2013, with previous spells at Hertha Berlin, Dynamo Kiev and Schalke 04 on his footballing CV.
A handful for opposing defenders, the 30-year-old is a dab hand at setting up chances for his teammates, with four assists in the last two matches and six to his name so far this season.
His goalscoring rate isn’t bad either, with one goal for every three league appearances since joining Monchengladbach and he will be one to watch for whoever Manuel Pellegrini selects in his back line on Wednesday night.
Another Swiss member of the side, goalkeeper Yann Sommer was signed in 2014 following Marc Ter Stegen’s move to Barcelona.
He brought with him four Swiss Super League titles as well as, crucially, Champions League experience with Basel, making his debut in the competition in 2011.
He will also be remembered for his role in helping Basel advance to the Europa League semi-finals in 2013, when they were beaten by eventual winners Chelsea before earning a surprise victory at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League the following season.
A stopper who likes to play out from the back, he went to the World Cup with his country in 2014.
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