The mystery of Manchester City in Europe is still very much alive, and they will desperate to improve a run of three defeats in four games in all competitions by getting the better of Borussia Monchengladbach.
Last season’s Premier League runners-up came into their opening Group D match at home Juventus knowing that they faced a tricky examination, but had taken maximum points from five Premier League games to take their winning run in domestic football to 11. Furthermore, they had not conceded a goal, but for whatever reason on the European stage they again produced the kind of lacklustre performance which has let them down so often in recent seasons.
After taking the lead in fortunate circumstances City never looked secure and eventually slipped to a deserved defeat, with the attacking quartet that is so vital to how they fare all having a poor night. Collectively, the team always seem to play within themselves when it comes to the Champions League, giving high-profile opponents that little bit too much respect and as a result not playing with the attacking flair which strikes fear into their opponents in England.
Until things change, the scrutiny will only intensify, so City have plenty to prove here in a game which they should and must win. Form however is poor, with Tottenham blowing them away on Saturday with a rousing comeback, albeit helped by two blatantly offside goals. A lack of pace at the back was ruthlessly exploited and that perfect defensive record has suddenly faded away. It may not have been the case a few weeks ago, but Monchengladbach, who like to attack, will relish their opportunity to get at the visitors’ rearguard.
That is despite a highly disappointing start to their Bundesliga campaign as they look to emulate last season’s excellent fourth-placed finish. Their start has been exactly opposite to Man City’s losing their first five games but then responding in the last couple of weeks to pick up two victories over Augsburg and VfB Stuttgart to lift themselves up to 14th. They are rank outsiders in this group, but should not be written off yet despite losing comprehensively to Sevilla on match day one.
Man City will hope to have captain Vincent Kompany available after illness kept him from being among the substitutes at White Hart Lane, but this game is likely to come too soon for David Silva. Central midfielder Fabian Delph is definitely out.