The Manchester City fans are feeling confident in the Transfer Tavern ahead of their trip to face FC Basel in the Champions League this evening.
Pep Guardiola takes his City slickers to Switzerland this evening to face a side who have already defeated their local-rivals Manchester United at the St. Jakob Stadium this season. The Swiss giants defeated United by 1 goal to nil in November on an evening where the travelling Red Devils missed a host of chances in the first-half. United’s failure to record victory that evening will certainly be at the forefront of Guardiola’s mind ahead of their clash, and he will be firmly reminding his players of that result to guard against complacency.
City will be looking to further cement their credentials as a potential quadruple winner this season with a commanding victory over Basel in the first-leg. However, if City want to win four trophies this season then they will need to rotate their squad on a regular basis to ensure nobody suffers from burnout during the business end of the season.
One player Guardiola should consider resting tomorrow evening is City’s highly-influential centre-back Nicolas Otamendi. The Argentine who turned 30-years-old yesterday has started 26 of City’s 27 fixtures in the Premier League this season and 5 out of City’s 6 Champions League fixtures, and he has been thoroughly excellent throughout those appearances.
However, Otamendi – affectionately referred to as ‘the general’ by The Citizens faithful – showed signs of fatigue and lapses in concentration against Leicester City on Saturday that have rarely been demonstrated this season. Although City’s clash with Basel is undoubtedly a huge fixture in the context of their ambitions for the season, there is more than enough quality in the squad to ensure they can cope in Otamendi’s absence.
With that being said, Guardiola should restore Vincent Kompany (valued at £9 million by Transfermarkt) to the starting line-up this evening in Otamendi’s place at the heart of City’s defence. Kompany has typically struggled to reach full-fitness so far this season and is yet to make an appearance in the Champions League, but his recent performances against Burnley and Cardiff suggest he could play a pivotal role in the final months of the season.
Otamendi looks in need of a rest and Kompany needs minutes on the field to return to full match-fitness, so Guardiola should consider making the proposed change when his side take on Basel this evening.