Two familiar foes meet at the Allianz Arena as Bayern Munich take on Manchester City in the Champions League Group stage for the third time in four seasons. Both sides have started their domestic league campaigns in reasonable fashion. At the weekend, Manchester City battled to earn a point at Arsenal, while Bayern dispatched Stuttgart comfortably with a 2-0 win.
The face of Bayern has changed slightly since the last time the two sides met, and new signing Xabi Alonso has become an instant hit, putting in two man of the match performances to prove what a valuable asset he already is to the Bavarian club. They are still very much the same club however and that was what was also proven on Saturday when Franck Ribery made a scoring return to the side. The Frenchman still remains a vital cog to the Bayern Munich midfield.
For Manchester City, a further improvement in the Champions League is a demand this season. After successfully negotiating the group stage last season, the aim should be to reach at least the quarterfinals. A win against Bayern in their opener would go a long way to breeding the confidence needed for the task ahead.
City captain Vincent Kompany is well aware of the challenge. “This is the first game of the Champions League, an away game against one of the hardest teams to play in the world right now,” Kompany said. “But we should take confidence out of the last game we played in Munich. We’re up for the challenge.”
The group this season is arguably harder than last year given that it is exactly the same except Roma replace Viktoria Plzen as the final side to make up the group. The benefit of the Bayern match-up is they get their hardest game out of the way from the off. Last season, they didn’t face Bayern until the final group match.
Confidence is always a positive thing to have and no one can fault James Milner’s optimism ahead of the Bayern Munich game. The 28-year-old believes the Premier League champions can win the Champions League, stating, “If you look at the players we’ve brought in again, we’ve made some top-quality signings, there’s competition all over the field.
“If there are injuries or suspensions, which you’re bound to get during a season, I don’t think you’re really going to weaken the side whatever team the manager picks because there’s so much quality.”
It is certainly true that City now have strength in depth, and Stevan Jovetic pays homage to that. The Montenegrin forward has been in reasonably solid form when making some appearances this season. They also have a strong midfield with a like for like replacement for much of the squad.
There’s absolutely no doubt that Manchester City have a team strong enough to win the Champions League, it’s just whether they can balance it with such a competitive Premier League title race. The result against Bayern will go a long way to answering some of the questions raised.