Manchester City will be aiming to book their spot in the Champions League quarter-finals when they take on Borussia Monchengladbach in the second leg of their last-16 tie at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.
Goals from Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus saw the Premier League leaders ease to a 2-0 win in the first leg, and Monchengladbach head into the match in the midst of an abysmal run of form.
With the Premier League title all but wrapped up, and a domestic trophy cabinet full to the brim with FA and EFL Cups, Pep Guardiola would love nothing more than to end his Champions League hoodoo at the Etihad Stadium this time around.
After sweeping aside the competition in the group stage, Man City needed no second invitation to assume control of their last-16 battle in the first leg thanks to goals from Silva and Jesus, with Guardiola’s men now bidding to make the quarter-finals for the fourth year in a row, and hopefully not be knocked out at that stage four years in a row.
Indeed, City have been sent packing in the last eight by Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Lyon in the past three seasons, but they head into the second leg of their last-16 tie with Monchengladbach having gone 616 minutes without conceding a goal in the tournament, and there is genuine belief that this could be City’s year on the biggest stage of them all.
Tuesday’s game is technically City’s ‘home’ leg despite the rearranged venue, but they have never failed to progress in Europe after marching to victory in the first leg away from home and will be expected to breeze past an out-of-form Monchengladbach this week, especially with no players injured, suspended or at risk of suspension.
A much-changed Man City outfit broke Fulham’s defensive resolve to triumph 3-0 at Craven Cottage at the weekend, as a certain Sergio Aguero finally got off the mark for the Premier League season from the penalty spot in that game, and having won 23 of their last 24 games across all competitions, even the most ardent of Monchengladbach supporters cannot be expecting miracles from their team in Budapest.
Marco Rose is hardly enjoying the send-off he would have liked in the Monchengladbach dugout, as he has now witnessed his side go eight matches without a win as they lost for the sixth game in a row following a 3-1 defeat to Augsburg on Friday night.
Rose has not witnessed his side come up trumps in any competition since a 2-1 win at Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal on February 3 – before he announced that Borussia Dortmund would be his next destination – and given Monchengladbach’s truly woeful form of late, many are starting to question whether the appointment of the 44-year-old was a shrewd or naive move from the Dortmund hierarchy.
However, Rose has been publicly backed by Dortmund director Michael Zorc ahead of next season, but for now, the Monchengladbach boss cannot allow his mind to wander after six successive defeats, with Die Fohlen now facing an uphill battle to even qualify for Europe let alone challenge with the continent’s big boys.
While making the last 16 represents Monchengladbach’s best ever finish in the Champions League at the third attempt, Rose’s underperforming cohort have simply capitulated since successfully navigating a group with Real Madrid and Inter Milan, and it would take a brave soul to bet against Man City easing into the quarter-finals now.
The Bundesliga outfit have only ever emerged victorious in one of their seven meetings with Man City – a 3-1 win in the 1978-78 UEFA Cup – with the Manchester giants winning four out of their last five against Monchengladbach since the 2015-16 Champions League campaign.