As the Champions League returns, Borussia Mönchengladbach face familiar foes Manchester City, while Bayern Munich open against Russian side FC Rostov. Get the latest quotes and team news here.
Manchester City vs Borussia Mönchengladbach (20.45 kick-off)
One of the headline clashes of this opening matchday in the Champions League is Gladbach’s trip to the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are one of the in-form teams in Europe, boasting a 100% record in all competitions, which includes their impressive 2-1 win at Old Trafford in last Saturday’s Manchester derby.
Despite his side’s impressive start to the season, coach Guardiola has sought to temper expectations of a strong run in the Champions League by claiming history is against them.
“I have to be honest, I would have to be a really good coach to win the Champions League this season,” he said. “I will try but the history is the history. If they believed I failed in Munich because I didn’t win the Champions League I have to accept that but I never said it is how I would be judged.”
Andre Schubert’s Gladbach, by contrast, have had a mixed start to the season. An emphatic 9-2 aggregate win over Young Boys was followed by an impressive 2-1 opening day Bundesliga win over Bayer Leverkusen. But a second half collapse at Freiburg last weekend led to a morale-sapping 3-1 defeat – not the ideal preparation for a Champions League group that includes Barcelona, Celtic and Man City, of course.
“We know that we need to give our all against a team with real quality,” Schubert said ahead of his side’s Monday evening training session in Manchester. “Man City’s start to the season speaks for itself. I understand Guardiola might be trying to soften expectations but they have incredible strength and a great chance to win one or two trophies.”
Gladbach will be without Patrick Hermann, who picked up a hamstring injury in the defeat at Freiburg, while Manchester City could welcome Ilkay Gundogan into their squad for the first time since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. The midfielder has been recovering from a dislocated knee, suffered in May. Sergio Aguero should return to the City starting line-up, despite being one game into a three-match domestic suspension.
Bayern Munich vs Rostov (20.45 kick-off)
Joshua Kimmich will start as Bayern Munich open their first Champions League campaign under Carlo Ancelotti at home to Russian club FC Rostov.
Kimmich scored his first ever Bayern goal in Friday’s hard-fought 2-0 win at Schalke, just days after netting his maiden goal for the german national team – and has become an early favourite of Ancelotti.
Bayern will be without Kingsley Coman, Jerome Boateng and Arjen Robben, but even without some of their bigger names the German champions are fully expected to stroll to victory against a Rostov side who will sit deep but shouldn’t pose much of a threat. Bayern come off the back of that win at Schalke in the Bundesliga, and a crushing 6-0 opening day win over Werder Bremen.
It will be interesting to see whether Ancelotti continues with 18-year-old Renato Sanches in midfield, with the former Benfica man coming in for some harsh criticism on his Bayern debut against Schalke. Ancelotti will be aware of the comments aimed at Sanches and could well keep him in the team as a demonstration of the confidence he has in the Portuguese.
In his pre-match press conference, Ancelotti wouldn’t be drawn on whether Sanches will start but does expect Rostov, who labored to an unconvincing 2-1 win over Russian Premier Liga basement club Krylya Samara Sowjetow on Friday, to play very defensively. “Rostov are defensively strong and sometimes play with five at the back. They will be tough to break down.”
Forward Thomas Müller also spoke to the press and expressed his excitement of playing in the Champions League again at the Allianz Arena. “We’re happy the Champions League is starting again with a home game. The fans have waited long enough.”