What Bayern can expect from Manchester City

Posted by Susie Schaaf

I took the time to posit ten questions for ESPN FC Manchester City correspondent Simon Curtis before Wednesday's crunch Champions League match who gave us a preview of what to expect from City.

- Ten questions for Bayern correspondent Susie Schaaf


Question: "While Manchester City and Bayern Munich have both been lauded on recent forms, Saturday saw City lose 3-2 at Aston Villa and Bayern narrowly win 1-0 over Wolfsburg. Could both teams, perhaps, have been guilty of looking ahead?"

Answer: "They could certainly be forgiven for doing so, but City did not have that air about them. They played dominantly and well but returned to their ancestral DNA by losing a game they had totally bossed. It will live long in the memory as one of the most bizarre City games in modern times. Bar the injured David Silva and Aguero and perhaps Clichy on the left, this was a full strength side, so I don't think minds were elsewhere, either amongst the players or the coach."

Q: "What is going on with Joe Hart?"

A: "Fame and adoration, that's what! Good-looking young guy with the world at his feet, but the world has fallen at his feet slightly too early and he appears to be having one or two problems dealing with the focus. Once they "arrive" at the top, over-confidence in relatively young goalkeepers can be a problem and that seems to be the major one afflicting Hart. Needs to cut away from his off-field endorsements and focus."

Q: "Fernandinho and Yaya Toure have emerged as quite the pair this season! How do Bayern limit the damage they create?"

A: "Difficult. Fernandinho holds back, allowing Yaya out on the rampage. How you stop the Elephant of Bondoukou in full flight is anyone's guess. If Bayern can sneak an articulated truck into midfield, that might hold him back a bit, but, one guesses, not for long. He is also on a rich scoring vein, so any free-kicks near the edge of the box, look out. He has netted three identical free kicks already this season, plus an absolute screamer v Plzen on Matchday One and a goal in the derby v United. Gaining control off these two in midfield must be Bayern's first and major concern."

Q: "Pellegrini has never come up a winner against Guardiola in eight attempts with Villareal, Real Madrid and Malaga. What's different now?"

A: "He has slightly stronger personnel at his fingertips than at Villareal and Malaga. The carnival that is Real (they are visiting another one of their third place "crisis periods", one notes) is another matter altogether. Pellegrini does not strike me as the sort of man who could work well in the midst of that circus anyway. Certainly for him, it is time to bury the Pep hoodoo."

Q: "Despite being paired in the same group, this year's draw seems favorable with both these sides likely to go through. Who would you not want to face in elimination rounds?"

A: "Strangely, if you ask City fans, many would not mind who they face, as just being in these places, in these grand stadiums, pitting your wits against the best, is fantastic. To stand at Bayern and Real, like I have, and watch our beloved City come out brought tears to the eyes, after so many years of mediocrity and disaster. Those that are focussed on actually doing well in the competition (!), will want to avoid Barca, Real, Dortmund (who took us to the cleaners twice last season) and Napoli. I have a personal thing about Shakhtar too. That's a hell of a place to go and try to get a result."

Q: "With Sergio Aguero and David Silva returning for this one, what kind of line-up do you see Pellegrini starting?"

A: "Full strength. Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy: Fernandinho, Yaya; Nasri, Silva, Aguero; Negredo."

Q: "There's been some questionable defending in your losses this year. How do you defend the Ribery/Robben tandem?"

A: "We should be better against better players, if that makes sense. Kompany made mincemeat of Rooney in the derby, so he and Nastasic can do and have regularly done a fantastically tight job. Zabaleta too is an excellent defender, who will have to be very tight on whoever drifts to his side. The problem may well come down your right and City's left, where neither Kolarov nor Clichy can be trusted to 'defend with their lives', as the former likes to drift and the latter doesn't like to tackle. Attack may well be City's best form of defence in this one."

Q: "I gather you were in Munich for one of the times that City has played there in recent history. How did you find the city and the atmosphere?"

A: "I was indeed there, although the Paulaner frayed the memories a bit. It was City's first ever away game in the Champions League and the Oktoberfest was on, so I found Munich to be dull, very quiet and totally uninspiring...."

Q: "Who is your all-time City starting XI?"

A: "Trautmann; Book, Watson, Kompany, Donachie; Bell, Summerbee, Silva Tueart; Aguero; Lee."

Q: "Most pundits have pegged this match as a draw. Is that a fair assessment, or can you see City taking all three points?"

A: "What a question to tempt fate with, Susie! I absolutely hate predicting City scores, so I usually keep them to myself, but after 40 years of supporting the club I find I can often second guess them. You begin to get an innate idea of where this infected DNA will take us each time. Seeing it's against a top class Bayern side who come to Manchester as reigning European Champions, I'll take a ... (Fates, look away now)....City victory by 2-1."

You can find Susie's responses to the 10 questions posed to her by Simon here


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