Shane Burns looks ahead to Manchester City’s Champions League qualification clash with Romanian side Steaua Bucharest. The tie will be Pep Guardiola’s first Champions League match in charge of the hopeful winners and due to their forth placed finish last season, the game is a qualification match and will be the first time the two sides have met in Europe’s premier competition.
Guardiola commenced his tenure with City with a 2-1 victory over Sunderland at the weekend and will remain hopeful of his side continuing their winning run ahead of Tuesday’s clash in Romania. The two sides have never faced each other in UEFA competitions.
Steaua have already played six times already this season. Five victories and a draw so far make the Romanian’s a dangerous side having already comfortably dispatched of Sparta Prague in the previous round of qualification. Bucharest go into the clash massive underdogs with the pressure solely on Manchester City – something which the club remain very happy over.
Team News and Tactics:
Tuesday’s match may prove to be a blessing in disguise for City as they are still lacking in match sharpness due to the fact their preseason campaign remained short. Guardiola has stated his side will need time to adapt to his style and philosophy and the more match praise the squad receives will leave them in better shape to achieve success domestically and in the continent as quickly as possible.
After last season’s disappointing campaign, City are forced to play a qualifying round for the Champions League group stages after failing to finish in the top three of the league. Now City are without some key stars for the match in the Romanian capital and some fimilar faces have also been left out by Guardiola. Leroy Sané, Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany are still sidelined due to injuries. Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Eliaquim Mangala and Jason Denayer were all left-out of the squad that traveled. Nicolas Otamendi is expected to return to the side after missing Saturday’s victory over Sunderland with a calf-injury.
Joe Hart is once again expected to miss out with his future at the club looking bleak.
I’m not expecting Guardiola to thinker too much with the squad but he did state changes would be made and this is the team expected to line out:
(4-1-4-1): Caballero, Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov, Sterling, Fernandinho, Fernando, Silva, Nolito, Aguero
Not much is known about City’s counterparts as Romanian football may not be the strongest league in the continent but that doesn’t mean the club should under-estimate them. City will need to be weary of the long-ball style the Romanians have adapted to achieve success.
Currently top of their league with a 100% record, Bucharest are certainly confident ahead of City’s visit. Bucharest will not be over-whelmed by City but the club were hopeful of being drawn against anyone but Guaridola’s side. Bucharest are expected to line-up like so:
(4-2-3-1) Nita, Enache, Tamas, Tosca, Momcilovic, Bourceanu, Achim, Popa, Stanciu, Hamroun, Golubovic
Hamroun – The midfielder was crucial to Steaua’s success over Sparta Prague recently and his ability on the ball could cause trouble to the City defence with his eye-of-a-needle passing ability. His form has been decisive and domestically he has arguably been the player of the league campaign for them.
I’m not expecting City to walk into the match and destroy Bucharest. City are still trying to adapt Guardiola’s philosophy and the form Bucharest are in will make the clash a-lot more difficult than people are anticipating. Nonetheless, I do expect with City’s firepower for them to run out eventual winners with the Aguero being the difference between the two sides in a 0-1 victory for the Blues.
Stats and Facts:
- Steaua Bucharest and Manchester City are meeting for the first time in a UEFA Competitions.
- Manchester City’s only Romanian opposition in a UEFA competition was FC Timisoara for the Europa League play-offs of 2010/11 season. City were winners on both legs, 1-0 in Romania and 2-0 back in Manchester.
- Steaua have played 18 times against English sides and their record is 5 wins, 4 draws and 9 defeats.
- The 5 wins came at their home ground from a total of 9 matches, while they lost and draws 2 each.