Returning to his former stomping ground without a shred of sentiment, Pep Guardiola leads his Manchester City team out for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night.
The Premier League champions board their flight to Germany with a 3-0 advantage under their belts from last week’s first leg, where Thomas Tuchel’s Bavarian baptism of fire continued.
The action on the field at the Etihad was striking enough without Sadio Mane allegedly striking Leroy Sane in the face after the final whistle, as a faltering Bayern Munich side were served a slice of humble pie to leave their continental dreams hanging by the thinnest of threads.
A first-half Rodri stunner preceded Bernardo Silva’s header and an obligatory goal for Erling Braut Haaland in a Manchester mauling, although a besotted Tuchel bizarrely claimed that he “fell in love” with his team, but there was no such infatuation from the ex-Chelsea boss at the weekend.
Letting a slender lead slip to draw 1-1 with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, where Andrej Kramaric cancelled out a Benjamin Pavard effort, Bayern hold just a two-point lead over Tuchel’s former club Borussia Dortmund atop the standings, and the Star of the South could very well end a season of transition with just the DFL-Supercup to their name.
So far, the board’s brash decision to part ways with Julian Nagelsmann has not been vindicated, as Tuchel has won just two of his first five games at the helm, and Bayern have just one clean sheet to show from their last seven matches – not a reassuring statistic before facing Haaland and co, and neither is a two-game winless run at the Allianz Arena.
However, it has been over three years since the hosts failed to score in a competitive fixture at the Allianz Arena – drawing 0-0 with RB Leipzig in February 2020 – but only four teams have ever progressed from a Champions League knockout tie when losing the first leg by three goals or more, and none since Liverpool’s infamous Barcelona comeback of 2019.
Preview: Bayern vs. Man City – prediction, team news, lineups
Another day, another page in the history books for Scandinavian sensation Haaland, who continues to delight his manager and fantasy football managers across the land during the Citizens’ remarkable end-of-season winning streak.
Following a sublime opener from John Stones against Leicester City, Haaland netted Premier League goal number 31 and 32 – equalling Mohamed Salah’s record for the most in a 38-game season – before ex-Man City striker Kelechi Iheanacho gave the forlorn away fans something to cheer.
The dying embers of that 3-1 win were far from comfortable for Man City, but thanks to Arsenal letting successive 2-0 leads slip, the champions are right back in the thick of things in the Premier League, sitting four points off the Gunners with a game in hand.
Guardiola’s sky blue juggernaut is in full swing, with Man City travelling to the Allianz Arena on the back of their 10th successive win across all competitions – going unbeaten in their last 14 – and they have netted at least three goals in each of their last six fixtures.
However, Man City notably failed to win any of their away games in this season’s Champions League group stage against Dortmund, Copenhagen and RB Leipzig – drawing all three – but a stalemate would be satisfactory here, even if Guardiola is pining for a 100th Champions League victory as a manager; a feat only achieved by Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson.
Bayern Munich Champions League form:
Bayern Munich form (all competitions):
Manchester City Champions League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
We say: Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester City (Man City win 5-1 on aggregate)
Rival territory was not kind to Man City during the group stages, and Bayern’s affinity for goals at the Allianz Arena should at least lead to a flicker of hope for Tuchel’s side, which may quickly be extinguished.
The Champions League-winning nous in Bayern’s ranks counted for nought at the Etihad, and it should be a similar story against Man City’s well-rested and goal-happy crop, as they stroll into the final four with a comprehensive beating of the Bavarians.