UEFA Champions League Group D comes to a close at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night when Borussia Monchengladbach pay a visit.
The in-form German side beat Bayern Munich 3-1 on Saturday, so it promises to be a tough examination of a City side which will be targeting top spot.
Where will the game be won and lost? Here are five things to look out for…
Lay of the land…
Defeat to Juventus in Turin left City requiring favours from Sevilla in order to avoid the continent’s giants in the Last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side must beat Borussia Monchengladbach and hope Sevilla take maximum points against the Italian champions in order to progress in top spot.
As it stands, City would be in line to face Real Madrid, Wolfsburg, Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Zenit if they fail to win Group D, whereas Benfica, AS Roma, Olympiacos, FC Porto and KAA Gent are the teams currently second in their groups.
There are no byes in the knockout stages of this competition but the importance of winning the group is self-evident.
Borussia Monchengladbach are unbeaten since their 2-1 defeat to City at the end of September.
In their 12 games since, Andre Schubert’s side have won eight and drawn four and, although they can’t qualify from Group D, they’ll be motivated by the opportunity to stay in European competition after Christmas.
Although they’re currently occupying third they need to win to secure Europa League qualification as, if Sevilla beat Juventus, the Spanish outfit would advance due to a superior head-to-head record.
Borussia inflicted Bayern Munich’s first Bundesliga defeat of the season last weekend, so they arrive into this game in buoyant spirits…
Expect changes… but not many!
… which is quite the opposite of the mood in the home camp following the disappointing 2-0 defeat to Stoke on Saturday.
City were outplayed in every department at the Britannia Stadium but they have an opportunity to draw a definitive line under that game.
To do that, they’ll have to win amid some adversity once again as the team is missing six first-team players, with Martin Demichelis the latest to face a spell on the sidelines.
Pellegrini won’t have much room for rotation but he said he will make two or three alterations to the side which started on Saturday, so perhaps Eliaquim Mangala, Yaya Toure and/or Fabian Delph will come back into the side.
City won’t “win ugly”…
Despite only winning two and losing three of our last six games, Manuel Pellegrini told journalists he won’t compromise on his principles and try to grind out a result against Borussia on Tuesday night.
He said: “We are always the highest scoring team, and it is not us to play with eight or nine players in our box. We must continue not to change the style and not to make so many mistakes.”
That said, “win ugly” is exactly what City did in the fixture between these two teams in September and the Chilean was indebted to his goalkeeper Joe Hart for a number of fine saves which kept the away side in the game until Sergio Aguero came up with the late winner.
That victory paved the way for a high-scoring, unbeaten October and Pellegrini will be hoping that another win, by any means against Borussia, will set up a similarly good December, especially with tough games away at Arsenal and Leicester coming up in the next few weeks.
City’s record against German opposition at home in European competition is fairly good – we have won four, drawn two and lost only one of seven games.
As for Borussia, they have only managed one win from their four historical trips to England, drawing twice and losing the other.
The teams have met before in Manchester only once, back in 1979 when Monchengladbach claimed a 1-1 draw to send them through to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup thanks to their 3-1 win in the first-leg.