Manchester City will book their place in the final 16 of this year Champions League competition if they can take the three points on their travels to Milan, Italy for tonights Group C clash with Atalanta.
Last season’s domestic treble winners have won their opening three games of this year’s group stages and will secure top spot and an easier game in the next round with games to spare if they beat Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb draw with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Before speaking about his team selection City boss Pep Guardiola (pictured), who will have one eye also on the weekend’s top of the table premier league clash with Liverpool told reporters;
“I want to qualify as soon as possible; I'm not thinking about rotating. We will try to win, but if not, there is Shakhtar at home and Dinamo Zagreb away.”
Young midfielder Phil Foden is a definite absentee due to his sending off in the 5-1 defeat of Atalanta at the Etihad Stadium on Oct 22nd, while David Silva as also not travelled with the team after suffering a muscular issue during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
However, despite their absence, Guardiola is confident his side know what to expect from their opponents as he added;
“Before the first fixture, there might have been a danger but they have experienced exactly what it takes to come up against them, the first half was very even, up until 3-1. We've prepared as best we can. We know it is always tough to come away in Europe.”
The Italians who currently sit fifth in Serie A are bottom of group C without a win and anything short of victory would effectively rule them out of qualifying for the knock out stages, This won’t be helped with the loss of home advantage as Atalanta’s Gewiss Stadium doesn’t meet Uefa requirements the game will be played at the San Siro Stadium home to Italian giants AC & Inter Milan.
Despite their struggles so far in Europe Atalanta defender Rafel Toloi believes his side are were they should be among Europe’s best as he spoke before the game;
“We've earned to the right to play such opponents, they [Manchester City] have super players, Sterling is very fast, so we'll have to be aggressive and very careful in the markings. We know that with our fans at home we can do well.”
The home side are still without Colombian International Duvan Zapata who was injured while on international duty last month, which leaves his fellow countryman Luis Muriel as the sides main scoring threat with 8 goals so far this season.
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