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Soccer Champions League

Champions League: Can Manchester City Grab Top Spot?

Image courtesy of Manchester City FC Official Facebook

Over the next two days. the remaining Champions League qualification places will be decided and then teams not making it find out if they will drop into the Europa League or just out of European competition all together. For the top two sides, it is important to see which position, either first or second, they will get.

The placing will determine their draw with everyone who finishes at the top getting drawn against the teams who have finished second, and that is the dilemma for Manchester City heading into Matchday 6.

Certainly, had they not been turned over so badly in Manchester earlier on in the group, then this might be more of a chance for them to grab the top spot and maybe avoid the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, but they didn’t and we are left with City needing to beat  Bayern Munich by a score of 3-0 or better on their own ground. City must do this without Yaya Toure, who is suspended after picking up his quota of yellow cards in the last game.

City have not been great in away games and put in a below par performance against Southampton for a good 70 minutes on Saturday. They also need to forget that Munich hammered Werder Bremen 7-0 on the weekend, and instead go there believing they can win.

For City, the injury list is the same as Saturday. Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic are still out, and Gael Clichy has not traveled with the side. Toure is suspended, but that is the only real blow for City. Bayern, on the other hand are without Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Shweinsteiger. Mario Gotze got a knock but is expected to be okay.

I do not think Manchester City should hold back, and I would like to see Manuel Pellegrini give Joe Hart the nod for this game for a number of reasons. It was against Bayern that Hart made some of his biggest and most noticed blunders, so the chance to get rid of those demons would be good for him.

Secondly it is a game in which he can show the manager how close to his best he now is, and in the safety net of a game which really isn’t all that important as City have already qualified. So if he does mess up, then it’s back to Costel Pantilimon for Arsenal at the weekend. If he does have a blinder of a game, then it’s nothing but good headaches for Pellegrini.

For the record, I do think City will get points later today, but I do not imagine they will get the score required to secure top spot. That said, their pool consisting of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico and Barcelona may be expanded even without the required win, depending on other results. A result in Group F could see City end up with Dortmund or Napoli and the same for Group E, where Schalke or Basel could line up against City.

I would personally like to see City line up like this: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Nasri, Milner, Fernandinho, Navas, Negredo and Aguero.