Premier League champions Manchester City will look to continue their winning start to their UEFA Champions League group when they take on bottom-of-the-group Atalanta.
Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Key Stat: Atalanta are still searching for their first Champions League victory, having lost both group matches so far.
Expert Verdict: Manchester City have won both matches in this group so far, whereas Atalanta have lost both. City can cement their position at the top of the group with another win in this fixture, therefore. With Kevin de Bruyne back, the Blues got backed to winning ways at the weekend and another win should be on the cards.
Kevin de Bruyne returned to the starting XI at the weekend, while John Stones came on as a second-half substitute. That means only long-term absentees Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte remain sidelined. Pep Guardiola responded to City’s centre-back shortage by not starting any against Crystal Palace and it will be interesting to see which defensive combination he opts for this time.
Kevin de Bruyne – There is no question the Belgian makes City tick when he is fit – making their domestic treble, achieved largely without him last season, even more remarkable. He is already closing in on double figures for assists this season.
Raheem Sterling – Set up David Silva’s goal at the weekend with a superb lobbed pass, while his own goalscoring form has been excellent too – he came off the bench to score during the last Champions League match day.
Gabriel Jesus – Started at the weekend and scored his 50th Manchester City goal – his recent performances have put real pressure on Sergio Aguero for the regular starting position.
Manchester City needed their substitutes, namely Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden, to come off the bench and win their last Champions League match 2-0 against Dinamo Zagreb. A surprise 2-0 home defeat to Wolves followed, but Gabriel Jesus and David Silva both scored on Saturday as Pep Guardiola’s side returned to winning ways at Crystal Palace.
Defenders:Kyle Walker, Fernandinho, John Stones, Benjamin Mendy
Midfielders:Kevin de Bruyne, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan
Forwards:Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling
In-form top scorer Duvan Zapata is out with an adductor strain after getting injured playing in an international friendly for Colombia. Atalanta could start with the same team that started against Lazio.
Luis Muriel – Scored twice in the first half at Lazio last weekend as the Colombian striker moved to five goals for the season.
Alejandro Gomez – Goals in the last two league games have taken the Argentine to four in eight matches so far this season.
Hans Hateboer – If the right wing-back can get forward and occupy City on the left-hand side, it will blunt some of their attacking options. More realistically, however, he must keep Raheem Sterling and co under wraps.
Atalanta started the month with another defeat in this Champions League group – Duvan Zapata gave them an early lead against Shakhtar Donetsk but they went on to lose 2-1. Zapata, Alejandro Gomez and Robin Gosens scored as they bounced back with a 3-1 league win against Lecce but they come into this game after the frustration of blowing a 3-0 lead at Lazio at the weekend. Luis Muriel scored twice and Gomez added a third before half-time, but they ended up drawing 3-3.
Defenders:Rafael Tolloi, Jose Luis Palomino, Andrea Masiello
Midfielders:Hans Hateboer, Remo Freuler, Mario Pasalic, Robin Gosens
Forwards:Ruslan Malinovskiy, Luis Muriel, Alejandro Gomez
This will be the first time Manchester City and Atalanta have met in European football. In fact, it will only be the second time Atalanta have faced English opposition – they beat Everton home and away the last time it happened, in the Europa League.
Manchester City were already big favourites to progress from this group, and the Premier League champions have taken six points from six so far.
They now come up against an Atalanta team who have lost to the same two opponents City have beaten, sitting bottom of the group on zero points.
Furthermore, Atalanta are without their top scorer and star striker Duvan Zapata due to an injury picked up in an international friendly – much to manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s chagrin.
Atalanta’s problem has been defensively, however – they have conceded six goals in two Champions League games so far and that leaked into their league form at the weekend too.
Having been 3-0 up away to Lazio, there is no other way of looking at their 3-3 draw than two points dropped.
They failed to hold onto a lead in their most recent Champions League game too, against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Manchester City, meanwhile, got back to winning ways at the weekend and have Kevin de Bruyne back from his temporary injury lay-off.
With the Belgian pulling the strings in midfield once more, City scored twice at Crystal Palace and created plenty of chances to score more.
Gabriel Jesus has found some good form up front, to put the pressure on Sergio Aguero, while Raheem Sterling’s excellent season continued with an assist for David Silva.
With superstars threaded throughout this team, and keeping in mind the current form book too, it is hard to look beyond Manchester City winning this one.
Manchester City are huge odds-on favourites to win at home to Atalanta, with Ladbrokes offering the best price of 2/9 on a City win.
They are yet to concede a goal in this group either, and a City win to nil will return 13/10 with Ladbrokes.
Likewise, you can bet against both teams to score at 23/20 with 888sport.
Gabriel Jesus led the line at the weekend, and scored, and the Brazilian is 4/6 with Ladbrokes and 10Bet to score at any time. In-form Raheem Sterling can be backed at 5/6 with Ladbrokes, Betway and 10Bet.
Manchester City got back to winning ways at the weekend and have made a strong start to this Champions League group. Atalanta, on the other hand, have lost two from two.