Manchester City’s quest for the elusive Champions League is beginning to reach the business end. As City head into the quarterfinals, a stage where they have fallen in the last three consecutive campaigns, they will face a familiar face: their top transfer target and world football’s best young player in Erling Haaland with Borussia Dortmund.
City are undoubtedly the favorites heading into the first leg at home, but it will be a tantalizing prospect to see the young Norwegian superstar play at the Etihad Stadium for the first of what will hopefully be many times. Haaland has a history at the club, given that his father Alf-Inge played for City from 2000-2003, but this tie will provide an incredibly interesting preview of what could come next.
More from Game preview
- Penalty miss from Haaland and later scored, late equalizer from Sheffield and final moment from Rodri extend City’s perfect start in the Premier League
- Manchester City vs Manchester United FA Cup Final: Predicted Lineup for City
- Manchester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion: Predicted Lineups
- Manchester City vs. Real Madrid: Predicted lineup for Manchester City
- Manchester City vs. Real Madrid: The 3 Keys to Victory
Dortmund have struggled for consistency all season, but absolutely have the attacking talent to truly cause City issues. Moreover, between Europe and the Premier League this season, City simply have not faced a striker at Haaland’s level. Haaland’s rival Kylian Mbappé announced himself on the world stage with a stunning Champions League performance as Monaco knocked out City a few seasons ago, and now the Norwegian will have the opportunity to do the same with the eyes of the world watching.
From a City perspective, containing Haaland is the absolute top priority. The Citizens remained in fantastic form following the international break with a great win over Leicester, and they will need to control the game in order to gain the advantage in the first leg. However, no matter how well City control the game, the opportunity is there for Haaland to completely change the tie with just one chance, so there will be a heavy burden on the shoulders of Rúben Dias to keep him in check.
While many have seen City’s season and fully expect a Champions League title, I believe a successful campaign would be finishing off the Premier League title, winning one or two domestic cups, and making it to the semi-finals in Europe. City are capable of winning just about everything, but expecting an unprecedented quadruple seems an unrealistic aim.
Therefore, to break Pep Guardiola’s recent quarterfinal duck, winning this tie is absolutely imperative. It will be one of the most eye-catching matches of the quarterfinal, and the weight of expectation will be firmly upon City’s shoulders to right the wrongs of years’ past. Guardiola himself must not overthink the tie and simply play the football that has gotten City to this point, and the players must execute in one of the biggest games of the season so far.
Predicted XI: Ederson (GK), Kyle Walker (RB), Rúben Dias (CB), John Stones (CB), João Cancelo (LB), Rodri (CDM), İlkay Gündoğan (CAM), Kevin De Bruyne (CAM), Riyad Mahrez (RW), Gabriel Jesus (ST), Raheem Sterling (LW)