Europa League preview: Juventus v Manchester City

When the draw for the Europa League group stages was made the trip to play Juventus appeared the most glamorous game in City’s recent European history. The reality is slightly different with Roberto Mancini set to name a second string side having already qualified for the knockout stages.

For Juve the scenario is worse as they are already out, having drawn all five groups thus far. It remains to be seen how strong a side Luigi Delneri, the Juventus manager, puts out.

Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli aren’t the only ones not making the trip, with those in attendance including only Boateng, Zabaleta and Jo from Saturday’s starting eleven. Lescott misses out with flu and Adebayor is injured. If Boateng is set to start against Everton then he might be on the bench.

As a result it becomes difficult to put a team together. Richards could play at centre-back alongside Boyata. The full-backs could be Zabaleta and Bridge.

It will be interesting to see if Milner plays in the centre of midfield alongside Vieira. The former Villa man was more involved when playing there against Salzburg and had a better game as a result.

Jo is the only senior striker, but his utility qualities may see him playing in one of the attacking midfield roles. Adam Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips ought to provide some dynamism on the flanks.

Alex Nimely is being tipped to play a part and this could be a welcome chance to see if one of our younger players can make the step up.

Micah Richards:

“I think we have to look at this game and think we can win the group because we may get an easier opponent in the next round as a result. I think we can go into this game without any pressure.”

The incentive to win is clear. We would then top the group and avoid drawing one of the teams dropping out of the Champions League.

Juve looked a quality side when they came to Eastlands with Krasic a threat and Chiellini a rugged defensive rock at the back. Whether they will be quite so motivated tonight remains to be seen.

Juventus fans can be notoriously fickle when it comes to attending European games and Mark Ogden of the Telegraph has tweeted there could be just 6,000 there tonight (including City’s sold out 1,500 allocation). With all the hullabaloo about Tevez, Mancini will probably appreciate a low key win on his return to Italy.

Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Zabaleta – Richards – Boyata – Bridge
Vieira – Milner
Wright-Phillips – Jo – A Johnson

Prediction: 2-0 to City.

Player ratings: Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers
Europa League player ratings: Juventus v Manchester City

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