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Holders Bayern Munich and Manchester City take on each other at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League on Tuesday night, in a highly anticipated clash that will decide the top spot in Group D.
Both teams have already qualified to the last 16. The Bavarians are currently three points above City and will finish top if they avoid a two-goal defeat tonight. Meanwhile, having lost 3-1 to Bayern at the Etihad earlier in the competition, Manuel Pellegrini's men know they need to beat the German giants by a better margin, if they are to finish top.
Bayern warmed up for this game with a 7-0 drubbing of Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga tie at the weekend. They are also on a record run of 10 consecutive wins in the Champions League, and manager Pep Guardiola not only wants extend that run but also finish the group stage with a perfect record of six wins out of six; something the club has never managed before.
"Our first goal was to qualify for the next round, and second to win our group. To get 18 points would be a great achievement. Records are nice, but there are many things to improve, such as keeping the ball for longer periods. If we play our usual game, however, we have a good chance of finishing top. Coming second is not an option," Guardiloa stressed.
"Manchester City have many players of great quality. They need to score three goals to come first. If we don't play well, they have the ability to hurt us. We are looking forward to the challenge. We won our game against Bremen [7-0 on Saturday], but I expect tomorrow will be a lot tighter. They won't give us the space we like between the lines, so we'll have to be at our best," the former Barcelona boss added.
City, on the other hand, have done well in the competition this season and have won all their group matches, except for the one aganst champions Bayern. The Manchester side and their fans would love a big win tonight, as they look to top the group and try their best in avoiding a high-profile opponent in the last 16.
"It's an important game. We may have already qualified but we still need to improve and make up for our home defeat against Bayern. We would prefer to finish top of the group, but it's been tough having already played against a very strong Bayern team. It will be extremely difficult to beat them 3-0 at their stadium. However, we will give everything to make that happen," Pellegrini pointed out.
City were held by Southampton at the St. Mary's on Saturday, as they away game woes in the league continued. And Pellegrini admitted his side now has one eye on Saturday's top-of-the-table Premier League tie against leaders Arsenal, and hence will look to give some of their fringe players a chance at the Allianz Arena tonight.
"Of course, if you ask me at this moment, the game against Arsenal next weekend is more important than the game against Bayern Munich. From the moment we qualified for the next round, the Premier League became more important than Champions League but that does not mean there is a possibility that the players who play against Bayern Munich will not play against Arsenal," he added.
Bayern: Arjen Robben (knee) is expected to be out till the New Year, while Bastian Schweinsteiger (ankle) and Holger Badstuber (knee) remain unavailable. Captain Philipp Lahm (thigh) missed the Bremen game, while Mario Gotze picked up a knock in that match and both will have late fitness tests. However, Franck Ribery, Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizarro are back from the treatment room and are expected to feature tonight.
City: Yaya Toure is suspended, while Gael Clichy was not part of the travelling squad due to a minor foot injury. Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic (both calf) remain sidelined, while David Silva, who has been absent for the club's last six matches with a calf injury, is back in contention.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 1.15 am IST start on Wednesday morning, with Ten Sports providing live coverage in India. You can live stream the match by clicking HERE. Viewers in the U.S. can catch the action via live streaming HERE. To watch the match in the U.K., click HERE. Viewers in North Africa and the Middle East click HERE.
Expected Lineups: Bayern: Neuer; Lahm, Kirchhoff, Dante, Contento; Martinez, Thiago, Kroos; Muller, Gotze, Ribery
City: Hart; Richards, Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov; Navas, Rodwell, J Garcia, Milner; Dzeko, Negredo
Prediction: 3-1 to Bayern