As the clock ticks down to tonight’s Champions League showdown with Spurs, the anticipation builds…
It’s make-or-break for the Premier League Champions tonight, as we look to overturn a 1-0 deficit to progress to the semi-finals, where Ajax await.
With Tottenham clinging onto their lead – and having prevented City from bagging an all-important away goal – the encounter rests on a knife edge.
The main talking point ahead of the game discusses Pep Guardiola’s potential team selection – the line-up and formation – as the media attempt to dissect our approach to the crucial clash.
The Manchester Evening News are one of many to have analysed the team news in a bid to predict tonight’s City starting XI.
Writes Dan O’Toole: “Pace could be key to City asserting their authority on the game and while Riyad Mahrez was impressive in the first leg, Sané could be the better option in finding weak points in Spurs' backline. Raheem Sterling remains City's most potent threat on the right flank.
“Kevin De Bruyne's inch-perfect pass for Sterling in the win against Palace was further evidence of the Belgian's sharpening-up in recent weeks and a midfield duo of the 27-year-old with Bernardo Silva could provide City with the pace, power and creativity required to outmanoeuvre Tottenham's midfield. David Silva could miss out.
“Benjamin Mendy's return to left-back in recent weeks was an encouraging one after Guardiola went much of the season without a specialist in the position, but the Frenchman's ability to play two games a week is still under question after such wretched injury problems over the course of his Blues career.
“Danilo, reliant when called upon this season, could start at left back over Fabian Delph, while the remainder of City's back four is perhaps more predictable, with Kyle Walker to the right of the centre-back partnership of Aymeric Laporte and John Stones.”
Switching attention to our opposition and Spurs shot-stopper Hugo Lloris, who denied Sergio Aguero from the spot in the first leg, expects his side will ‘have to suffer’ if they are to triumph.
Quoted by Tottenham’s official website, he said: “We know in the Champions League it’s always important not to concede a goal at home.
“It can help you for the return game away but as you know we are going to face one of the best teams in Europe. They have so much quality in the squad which can make the difference at any moment. They can score a lot of goals if the opponents show weakness.
“We have a small advantage but everything can turn very quickly so it’s important to come here with ambition, to stick with our basics as usual but if we come here with the mentality to score goals it’s going to make the game harder for Manchester City.
“We know it’s going to be tough, we’re going to suffer, but it’s important to be ready in our minds not just to defend but to be ambitious in our performance.
“Of course, we are ready to suffer but we know we can make the game difficult for them too.”
Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has tipped City to edge a thrilling contest, estimating a 3-1 win.
Previewing the tie in his column, he scribed: “This will be another tight affair. Man City have to score with another couple of goals and see if they can flex their muscles and get something.
“I see Raheem Sterling and his pace, it is just brilliant to watch. His goal against Crystal Palace, for example. The ball from Kevin De Bruyne combined with the run inside the man from Sterling was just sensational.
“I hope for their sake they start Sterling, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero once again, as these can damage Tottenham, who will sit in and play on the counter-attack with Lucas Moura's pace.
“He scored a great hat-trick at the weekend. It is whether they are good enough to keep the ball. Harry Winks will come back in and play with Moussa Sissoko while Christian Eriksen will play further up.
“Sometimes you can force the pass in these games and the key to this game is De Bruyne. He has the determination to find the pass and he is good without the ball as well.
“Man City will go through - it will go right to the wire, but City are still holding the edge at this moment. Even at the weekend, they conceded to make it 2-1 but had the final push to get another.”
In other news, the Bury Times have penned a heart-warming feature on St Monica’s School’s visit to the City Football Academy.
As Brad Marshall reports: “A team of high school pupils made the starting 11 as they joined the Manchester City Football Club for a special training session.
“The 11 Year 7 and 8 students from St Monica's RC High School's girl's football team spent the day with the Man City women's team, recently crowned Continental Cup winners, after being chosen by the school for their exceptional sporting abilities and keen interest in the sport.
“During the day the girls and school staff members took a tour of the Etihad Stadium, including a trip down the tunnel and onto the pitchside.
“They also met the club's women's first team after watching them train, and were shown the training pitches and academy complex.
“At the end of the tour the girls were presented with a signed football used by the players during training, which the school plans to display in its trophy cabinet.”
Caroline Burke, cover co-ordinator at St Monica's, reflected: “The whole experience was unbelievable, and it is a day that will stay long in the memories of the girls."
Finally, to transfer gossip and the Daily Star believe City are one of several clubs monitoring Burnley’s Dwight McNeil.
According to Ian Murtagh: “The 19-year-old, who only made his first Premier League start last August, has attracted the attention of several clubs with his performances this season
“And despite signing a new contract in January which keeps him at Turf Moor until 2023, that has not deterred would-be buyers from keeping a close eye on him.
“Manchester City, Arsenal and Everton have all watched the teenager in recent weeks and now Newcastle have joined the clubs tracking him.”
Don’t miss our Champions League Quarter Final against Spurs on Wed 17 Apr, 8pm. From £40 Adults & £12.50 U18s. Limited tickets remaining – book your seats.