Pep Guardiola takes charge of his first Champions League game at Manchester City as they travel to Romania to play Steaua Bucharest for the first leg of their Champions League play-off. Guardiola won his first competitive game as City boss on Saturday when his side defeated Sunderland at the Etihad 2-1.
Joe Hart has been named in the 21 man squad to travel to Romania, but Ivory Coast international Yaya Toure is once again a notable absentee. Hart’s omission from the team on Saturday raised many eyebrows among supporters and neutrals and questions were asked about his future under Guardiola. Speaking in his press conference at the Arena Nationala he addressed the absence of Toure and said “He is a player of us and he is training amazing, but I was not sure if he was going to play, and so I prefer it if he stays there training in Manchester.’ Guardiola went on to say the team travelled with two young guys and for selection he preferred young guys over Yaya Toure.
As well as Toure, Samir Nasir, Wilfried Bony, Eliaquim Mangala, Oleksandar Zinchenko and Jason Denayer have all been left in Manchester. In addition to the absence of these players, summer signings Ilkay Gundongan and Leroy Sane miss out through injury. However, Guardiola has included youngsters Angus Gunn, Angelino Tasende and Tosin Adarabioyo in the match day squad. Harte is in the squad and may feature, while Nicolas Otamendi is also in the squad after recovering from a tendon injury.
In relation to some statistics around the game, Guardiola has won the Champions League twice as manager, with Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley the only two managers to win it more than the Spanish coach. Sergio Aguero has scored 17 goals in 33 Champions League games for City and Pep will be hoping he can add some more to that tally. Steaua Bucharest have not won any of their last 12 Champions League home games and their only win in 21 groups games came in 1996 against Widzew Lodz. However, Steaua have managed to win the Romanian title for a record 26 times, with their most recent win coming in 2014/2015.
In terms of betting Manchester City are coming into the game as 4/9 favourites, while the home side can be got at odds of 11/2. City are 12/1 to win the Champions League outright, with Barcelona the current favourites at 3/1. Sergio Aguero is 5/2 to get the first goal, while Romanian international at 10/1 for Steaua is likewise to do the same for the hosts.
Prediction : Manchester City 2 Steaua Bucharest 0