Schalke v. Manchester City Champions League Game
This is part of our Champions League coverage, as always, there’s more on our Champions League page!
The Group F winner, Manchester City will take on the runner of group D in Schalke 04. They finished close on points which highlights the runaway winner of group D who finished with 16 points. Manchester City managed 13 points compared to the 11 that Schalke garnered. The first leg of this matchup will be at Veltins-Arena, home of Schalke.
Schalke are relative newcomers to major international competitions with their best finish coming in 2010 as a semifinalist. They have, however, won the league 7 times and finished as runners up an additional 10 times. They have a tough ask to progress against Manchester City, but their supporters will be trying to urge them on!
Despite making it through the group stages of the Champions League, they have performed poorly in the Bundesliga. They are currently 12th of the 18 teams in the League. Through 18 games, Schalke has managed only 21 points and a negative (-3) goal differential. However, in what has to be good news for Schalke fans; they’ve been markedly better at home securing 12 of their 21 points. They are scoring an average of 1.4 goals per game at home, conceding a little over 1.5 goals per game.
In the Champions League, Schalke has also been better at home. They secured 7 of their 11 points at home. They are averaging 1.3 goals scored per game and conceding 0.3 goals per game. If Schalke want to proceed into the next round, they need to take advantage of the first leg at home to put them in a safe(r) situation for the second leg. That said, I think that Schalke will have to put on a great performance to pull off a “giant-killing” win over Manchester City.
Manchester City were huge favorites starting off the season. And although they kept pace with Liverpool for the early season, some questionable results have seen a gap emerge. Manchester City are still getting Kevin de Bruyne back into action after his early season knee injury. Manchester City is seeking to become only the second team to successfully defend their title (only their bitter rivals have done it).
Recent form has seen Manchester City fall down below Liverpool in the pecking order. It’s definitely not insurmountable but a 4-point gap has opened up between them and the top of the League. At home, City has lost only one game, while on the road they have drawn or lost 4. At home they have almost a 4:1 goals to concessions ratio and on the road it slips to a mere 3:1.
Manchester City’s Champions League Form was good enough to have them finish in first place. Although, in an analysis of the groups they had the third-easiest group of the lot. They have been pretty equitable with their performances on the road and at home. In road games they are averaging 2.33 goals scored per game and are conceding only a single goal per game.
What to expect
In this first leg matchup, Schalke has much more to prove than Manchester City does. I anticipate that Schalke will play a very attacking style in hopes of getting a few goals cushion for when they head into Etihad Stadium. This may also be a precarious position for them, as the more they strive to attack, the more vulnerable they become to City’s counterattacks. I don’t think either side will escape this matchup with a clean sheet.