They may currently be involved in a highly intense Champions League semi-final, but Manchester City still have work to do domestically and their latest assignment is a tricky encounter away to Southampton.
Ronald Koeman’s men still retain faint hopes of finishing in the top six as another very satisfactory season draws towards a close, and they were in the goals on their travels last time out as already relegated were beaten 4-2. The game saw Dusan Tadic net a brace as he continues to show signs of rediscovering his best form, and when performing well the Serb is a player that enables his side to go from strength to strength thanks to his vision and willingness to provide chances for his teammates.
There will of course be hope among the Saints that the visitors will be at least partially distracted by their upcoming visit to the Bernabeu, but they have every reason to fancy their chances in any case. The main thing they will have to watch out for is Man City’s swift counter-attacks, an area which they have struggled against at times this season, so the likely midfield pair of Oriol Romeu and Victor Wanyama will look to prevent the back four from becoming exposed.
This is likely to be a much more attack-minded display from Man City than what they produced in midweek for a hotly anticipated match-up that turned out to be a major disappointment for the neutral. Having secured a goalless draw it is all to play for in the second leg and the focus here for Manuel Pellegrini will be to get a positive result without suffering any injury setbacks, or indeed without having to call upon some of his key players at all.
With the exception of a problem sustained by Yaya Toure, that objective was met in the last Premier League game at home to Stoke City, where young striker Kalechi Iheanacho did his growing reputation no harm whatsoever by adding two more goals to his impressive tally. His reward was an earlier than expected substitue appearance against Real Madrid, but as his side’s attacks were rare the game did not allow him to show just how promising a talent he is on the big stage. This is his latest opportunity.
Graziano Pelle could be back in the Southampton team for this one, and fellow striker Charlie Austin could be involved after recovering from a hamstring problem.
Toure will miss out again for Man City along with David Silva, but Samir Nasri is likely to play a part after shaking off a minor injury.
Last Meeting: Southampton entered the meeting in November 2014 in second place, but were leapfrogged by Man City after the visitors triumphed 3-0 with all the goals coming after half-time. Yaya Toure fired in a low shot to give City the lead and despite being reduced to 10 men when Eliaquim Mangala saw red, they added two more on the break late on as Frank Lampard and Gael Clichy got their names on the scoresheet.