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Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva all return – Predicted XI: FC Copenhagen vs Manchester City (UEFA Champions League Last-16 First-Leg)



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Manchester City travel to Denmark this week as they face FC Copenhagen at Parken Stadium in the first-leg of this season’s UEFA Champions League round-of-16.

In their last outing, Manchester City left it somewhat late but temporarily climbed to the top of the Premier League table after beating a typical Sean Dyche Everton side at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.

After a first-half with zero shots on target, City continued their search for a goal well into the second-half. It took a change around in shape and the introduction of Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker but eventually, Pep Guardiola’s side found their reward.

Jarrad Braithwaite’s poor corner clearance was met by Erling Haaland as the Norweigan leathered his close-range strike past Jordan Pickford with his ‘weaker’ foot.

With just five minutes left, Haaland was once again on the scoresheet as he ensured the hosts would finish the game with all three points. Following a rare flurry forward for the visitors, De Bruyne picked out Haaland with the Norwegian doing the rest as he shrugged off Braithwaite and slipped the ball around Pickford into the bottom-left corner.

With the Champions League looming on the horizon, Manchester City redirect their focus to Europe’s premier club competition, eager to reclaim the prize that had eluded them for so long prior to last summer.

Pep Guardiola’s side have confirmed a 21-man travelling squad that made the trip to the Danish capital on Monday afternoon, with a trio of Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol, and Sergio Gomez absent from the set-up.

Ahead of a big night of action in Copenhagen, here is how we predict Pep Guardiola will line-up his Manchester City side in the UEFA Champions League last-16 first-leg!

Predicted XI

Despite Stefan Ortega starting Manchester City’s last two UEFA Champions League matches, Ederson should take his place for this one.

In what is somewhat of an unusual injury-free spell for the Blues, Pep Guardiola and his team are stacked for choice when it comes to selecting Tuesday’s defensive unit. Firstly, Kyle Walker was rested at the weekend against Everton and we believe he will slot back into his role on the right.

Through the middle, Ruben Dias is expected to keep his place and it will be John Stones who will partner him, when not stepping into the defensive midfield role.

On the left, Nathan Ake was yet again impressive at the weekend and we believe he will be deployed at left-back given the absence of Josko Gvardiol from the travelling squad, presumably due to fitness problems.

No shocks here, Rodri will be deployed in his typical holding role.

Ahead of the Spaniard, Kevin De Bruyne should come back into the starting XI as he looks to continue his incredible form since returning to the Manchester City set-up following injury and subsequent surgery.

Next to the Belgian, could be one of a few names. Mateo Kovacic was not in Saturday’s matchday squad and remains out of the travelling squad to Denmark, while Matheus Nunes was substituted on early in the second-half against Everton. As such, we think Bernardo Silva will play from the off against Copenhagen.

In an undroppable streak of form, Phil Foden will start on the right of a front-three, possibly rotating with Bernardo Silva throughout. With the left-wing still vacant, Jeremy Doku or Jack Grealish are arguably nailed-on starters. Simply due to the fact Grealish has not started in five, we’re opting for the Englishman.

Leading the line for the current UEFA Champions League trophy holders will undoubtedly be Erling Haaland.

Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake; Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo; Foden, Haaland, Grealish.

Substitutions: Ortega, Carson, Lewis, Akanji, Wright, Susoho, Nunes, Doku, Bobb, Alvarez.