Two of the European heavyweights clash on Wednesday, in what promises to be a bout that could go right to the final round. One, the current title holders of Europe's elite competition, and the other desperate to make their mark in the Champions League.
Manchester City players during a training session ahead of their Champions League clash against Bayern Munich, October 1
Manchester City host champions Bayern Munich at the Etihad, looking to make an impression and send a message out to the rest of Europe that they mean business this time around, after a couple of underwhelming seasons.
Manuel Pellegrini is now at the helm at Manchester City and got his Champions League career at the Etihad off to a sound start with a comfortable 3-0 win over Viktoria Plzen away from home.
With CSKA Moscow being the other team in the group, a loss for either side will not be the end of the world, with both expected to navigate their way to the knockout rounds comfortably.
However, City need to prove a point or two in Europe, and what better way than to do it against the current best team in Europe.
"We started this Champions League season very well and it's important to continue that," Pellegrini said. "We've now got a game at home against the most difficult team in the group, so we need a big performance.
"We know Bayern are strong but we're in good form too and can take the points here. We won't be going on the pitch thinking about drawing -- we'll be aiming for the win from the first minute."
Bayern also started the group stages with a comprehensive 3-0 win over CSKA, and Pellegrini will have to find a way past the German club's manager Pep Guardiola, with the Chilean having a woeful record against the Spaniard.
Pellegrini, whose side lost 3-2 to Aston Villa in the English Premier League at the weekend, has not tasted victory a single time in eight tries, and the City manager will be hoping ninth time is the charm.
"It's always a game between the players, it's not me versus Pep," Pellegrini insisted. "Football is always changing, the past is the past, so we'll see what happens in the future. Again, I'll repeat, it's not me versus Pep, it's Manchester City versus Bayern.
"Pep is a great manager and he's at a great club. It's not easy to improve on what they achieved last year, but somehow he will try and bring to Bayern all the characteristics he brought to Barcelona."
Bayern are expected to continue their all-conquering way yet again this season, and will start as favourites even if it is away from home against one of the biggest clubs in the English Premier League.
Team News: Pellegrini will welcome back David Silva for the first time since the international break, while Sergio Aguero also returns after missing the Aston Villa match.
Mario Gotze was on the bench for Bayern after returning from injury for the first time in three weeks and is expected to feature at some point on Wednesday.
Bastian Schweinsteiger returned in the game at the weekend, with Guardiola happy to see his midfield crisis ease after being forced to play Philipp Lahm out of position on a few occasions this season.
"I'm lucky to have Lahm who could come in and play that position, while it's important players like Gotze, Javi Martinez, Basti (Schweinsteiger) and Thiago (Alcantara) are all coming back now," Guardiola said. "I'm so happy my team have been managing to win games without midfielders -- you can still win games with the right strikers and defenders but you can't play well without midfielders."
Key men: Manchester City: Sergio Aguero and his goals will always be key for City, and even more so against the big teams.
Bayern Munich: The two wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery - "Robbery" as they are known together - will look to dominate and the quieter City can keep the two the better.
Where to watch
The match is scheduled for a 12.15 a.m. (IST, Thursday) start with it set for a live telecast on Ten Action.
Expected lineups: Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Toure, Fernandinho; Navas, Aguero, Silva; Negredo.
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Schweinsteiger, Kroos; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Mandzukic.
Prediction: 2-1 to Bayern Munich
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