After two disappointing results, which absolutely could have gone their way, Pep Guardiola will have a very difficult time in keeping his team’s spirits up. Manchester City had the maximum position and undoubtedly got more chances in both the games and they failed to take it.
Now with just five games to go before the season ends and City in grave danger of missing out on the fourth place, Guardiola has to make sure the trend doesn’t continue in the next game. Despite having a star-studded team and playing some beautiful football, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has been knocked out of all possible silverwares in his debut season and getting out of the Champions League will be the last thing he wants.
Manchester City will be hoping for a routine win in the next game as they visit Riverside Stadium to play struggling Middlesbrough. Boro got a surprising one goal win over almost relegation-bound Sunderland and should have recovered some confidence in an otherwise nightmarish season. City have won three of their last five meetings with Boro in all competitions and would expect it to continue.
Strongest Manchester City XI vs Middlesbrough
Goalkeeping has been a controversial position for City this season after Claudio Bravo’s terrible start to the campaign. Willy Caballero has been a regular for City this year until Bravo was starting of late. But, the Chilean limped off the game against United with a thigh injury that has most probably been his last game of the season.
The back four is expected to be same from the last game. Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta will take their place on the flank. After the experiment with Jesus Navas didn’t work as planned, the gaffer has opted for the more defensively stable, Zabaleta.
At the heart of the defence will be Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi. Kompany has been the most assuring centre-half for City in the last two games letting many to think how different City’s season would be if he was available since the beginning.
The double pivot roles will be taken by Fernandinho and Yaya Toure. The duo has balanced City’s defence and attack quite well and if not for City’s missed chances, they would be immensely effective.
Kevin De Bruyne will take the number 10 role. He was deployed as striker last game alongside Aguero and it didn’t work quite well for City.
The attacking trio will remain all the same. Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling will start on the wings with Sergio Aguero leading the attack. After the disastrous last game, Aguero would be hoping for a better display this time.
Sane – De Bruyne – Sterling
Toure – Fernandinho
Clichy – Kompany – Otamendi – Zabaleta
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