Both teams have already sealed their passage to the last 16, but this game is by no means a dead rubber. Top spot in the group, the reward for which is likely a more favourable draw in the first knockout round, is still up for grabs, but pride and reputation are also on the line. Victory for Pep Guardiola’s men would make it six wins from six, but that will not be a given against a City side looking to right a few wrongs from the clubs’ last meeting.
Guardiola wary of wounded City
Not many would argue that this is a clash between Group D’s heavyweights. However, in their last encounter - at the Etihad Stadium in October - City were given a harsh reminder of their shortcomings at this level, with Bayern cruising to a 3-1 success. Despite the Citizens’ veritable wealth of talent, their ability to compete with Europe’s big boys was dealt a painful blow, but there will be no doubting their determination to set the record straight.
Guardiola, for one, is tipping them to play a significant role in the competition this season: “In the last few seasons Man City didn’t reach the knockout rounds. They’ve managed it this year and that’s a huge success for them. I’m convinced they’ll be a very tough opponent for whoever they’re drawn against. They have hugely talented players and have been winning games 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 and even more recently. There’s no guarantee that we will win the game.”
Thiago enjoying himself
Set for his first home Champions League appearance for Bayern is Thiago Alcantara, recently back in action after an ankle ligament injury, and the 22-year-old is delighted to be nearing full fitness again. “I’m almost 100 per cent and I feel much better,” he said, before reaffirming the wisdom of his transfer to the German record title-holders.
“When I was injured I had time to get to know the club and the whole place and I’m delighted to be here. I made the best decision of my life coming here. There’s so much history about this club, I knew the coach and it’s a wonderful group.” After impressing from the bench in the win in Bremen at the weekend, Thiago could well find himself starting against Manuel Pellegrini’s team on Tuesday night.
Boateng: “Like a final”
Only a victory by three or more goals will mean Bayern do not win the group, but there was no questioning the importance placed on the match by Jerome Boateng, who himself spent a season with the Sky Blues in 2010/11. “It’s like a final. We’re at home in front of our own fans and we want to win it,” said the 25-year-old. We’ve been playing with confidence and we want to pick up where we left off.”
“We’re in great form but there’s still a long way to go and our goal is to get better with every game,” continued the Berlin-born defender. “We’re on the same level as all the top clubs in the competition and we don’t need to fear anyone.” It has been that type of attitude that has seen the Reds go 40 games unbeaten in the Bundesliga and chalk up a record ten consecutive Champions League victories. Guardiola and Co will be hoping for more of the same against the 2012 Premier League champions.
Bayern: Neuer - Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Martinez - Ribery, Kroos, Thiago, Götze - Mandzukic
Man City: Hart - Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic, Kolarov - Fernandinho, Javi Garcia - Nasri, Aguero, Navas - Negredo