Suddenly, Laporte slams the ball down Grealish’s barrel, causing Kepa to run out of the box. The goalkeeper hits the ball with his knee and kicks it against Azpilicueta, who is running with him. Luckily for the Blues, the ball bounces off the Spaniard into the goal instead of at Grealish’s feet.
Guests get a lot of possession during the first few seconds. Azpilicueta is sent diagonally to the right, but starts just offside.
Chelsea toasts. The Kogel rolls in Manchester. Let the wild ride begin!
The teams gather in the Etihad Stadium players’ tunnel. It will not be long.
Craig Pawsdon gets to referee today’s game. The 42-year-old official will be assisted by linesmen Lee Betts and Richard West.
Manchester City narrowly won the first leg at the end of September. A 1-0 draw swept away the Citizens in front of 40,000 spectators at Stamford Bridge when Gabriel Jesus scored the decisive goal in the 53rd minute. So today is the second duel after last summer’s Champions League final.
With tough opponents and the final at stake, Thomas Tuchel has little reason for rotations after his recent win over Tottenham. Nevertheless, the German head coach changes five positions, doing without Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and the sick Andreas Christensen. With Antonio Rüdiger, Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kanté and Romelu Lukaku, there is still a strong axis on the field at the beginning.
After cup games in England there is usually a lot of rotation. Accordingly, with Kyle Walker, João Cancelo, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva only five players are back in the starting XI. They are supplemented with regular players such as Ederson, Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling. İlkay Gündoğan is on the bench for the time being.
As second in the table, Chelsea would like to pursue them, but they are already facing what appears to be their last chance. A loss would see City drag to 13 points – probably too many for a comeback. Chelsea gained self-confidence by winning the semifinals against Tottenham Hotspurs in the League Cup and advancing in the FA Cup, but the Blues have been waiting for a win in the league since Boxing Day.
The Citizens recently celebrated eleven wins in a row in the league and are thus confidently ahead. There were serious setbacks at the end of October when Pep Guardiola’s team was eliminated from the League Cup, but during the week the Skyblues made amends in the FA Cup. Fourth division club Swindon Town was easily beaten 1:4.
Top game in the Premier League! Manchester City meet Chelsea FC as leaders. It starts at 1:30 p.m. Warm welcome!