Manchester City will embark on their first ever FIFA Club World Cup final on Friday evening, as they take on Fluminense in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.
Pep Guardiola and his players cruised into the final stage of the tournament on Tuesday evening, dismissing of Japanese giants Urawa Red Diamonds with a comfortable 0-3 victory and goals either side of half-time.
An own goal on the stroke of the half-time interval broke the deadlock for the reigning Champions of Europe, with Matheus Nunes forcing a cross into the net through the outstretched foot of Marius Hoibraten.
A totally dominant first-half performance was maintained into the second period of 45 minutes, with Mateo Kovacic smashing home a second following an excellent Kyle Walker through ball, before Bernardo Silva rounded off the scoring on 59 minutes.
Fluminense dismissed of Egyptian side Al Ahly to reach the final against Manchester City this week, as goals from Jhon Arias and John Kennedy lined-up a meeting of two footballing giants just before Christmas.
Manchester City will be without Jeremy Doku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Erling Haaland on Friday night, after the trio were removed from their 23-man squad list in the build-up to the clash with Urawa Reds, with competition rules stating no changes can now be made to their squad.
Ahead of matchday and kick-off at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, here is how we believe Pep Guardiola will line-up his side against Fluminense in the FIFA Club World Cup in Jeddah.
Ederson – who started the semi-final contest earlier this week – is likely to retain his place in between the sticks for Manchester City, after maintaining his and the defensive line’s first clean sheet in nine matches across all competitions.
Club captain and mainstay right-back Kyle Walker came out in a fighting defence in an interview ahead of Friday’s final following criticism over his performances and leadership qualities, however we expect him to once again start from the off under Pep Guardiola.
John Stones largely operated in defensive midfield last time out, and we expect the England international to be partnered with Ruben Dias for this one, shifting Manuel Akanji onto the substitute’s bench.
We expect Nathan Ake to retain his place as Manchester City’s left-back against Fluminense this week, after some largely exemplary performances from the Dutchman whenever he has been called upon.
Rodri will start in defensive midfield.
Despite an impressive showing against a largely stand-off Urawa Red Diamonds side, we believe Pep Guardiola could opt for Phil Foden ahead of Matheus Nunes in the attacking midfield role and offer the driving force to carry the ball further up the field.
Mateo Kovacic is likely to retain his place, fresh off the back of scoring his first goal for Manchester City since joining the Etihad Stadium side from Chelsea prior to the start of the ongoing season.
Things could get slightly more complex in the attacking line in the absence of Erling Haaland, but we anticipate Bernardo Silva to be charged with progressing from the right-hand side of the front-three.
Julian Alvarez could be handed the opportunity to start in attack for Manchester City, leading the line and offer his usual intense pressing against an ageing but experienced Fluminense rearguard.
Jack Grealish is likely to start from the left in the absence of Jeremy Doku, and after offering somewhat of a strong performance against Urawa Reds with most of City’s first-half attacking play coming through the Englishman.
Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake; Rodri, Kovacic, Foden; Bernardo, Alvarez, Grealish.
Substitutes: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Lewis, Alleyne, Akanji, Gvardiol, Gomez, Phillips, Susoho, Nunes, Hamilton, Bobb.
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