Crvena Zvezda host last season’s UEFA Champions League winners Manchester City on Wednesday as we look ahead with our prediction and preview. Can Pep Guardiola’s side make it a perfect six in the group stage?

Crvena Zvezda vs Manchester City Stats: The Quick Hits

  • The Opta supercomputer predicts a tough evening for Crvena Zvezda on Wednesday, with Manchester City winning 82.7% of data-powered simulations.
  • Man City have won all five of their UEFA Champions League games so far this season. The only English team ever to win all six group games in a season was Liverpool in 2021-22. 
  • Pep Guardiola’s side are unbeaten in their last 18 Champions League matches (W13 D5) and could equal the joint second-longest run of games without defeat in the competition.

Match Preview

Manchester City will be looking to complete a perfect UEFA Champions League group-stage campaign when they travel to Rajko Mitic Stadium to face Crvena Zvezda on Wednesday, although the defending European champions are set to be without talismanic Norwegian forward Erling Haaland.

Pep Guardiola’s side have already completed the double over both RB Leipzig and Young Boys to secure top spot in Group G, and City’s eyes will now be on joining Liverpool (in 2021-22) as just the second English team ever to win all six group games. Haaland, Phil Foden and Julián Álvarez all scored in a 3-2 comeback success over Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium in their last European outing.

However, Man City have since appeared a little off colour domestically. They were held at home by Tottenham Hotspur in a 3-3 draw and lost 1-0 to high-flying Aston Villa before Sunday’s 2-1 comeback victory over Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.

Haaland was absent for the trip to Luton with a foot injury, although Guardiola hopes the former Borussia Dortmund striker will return for the first FIFA Club World Cup match on December 19 as the Spanish manager looks to manage his fitness on a “week-by-week” basis. The Norway forward has scored 17 goals in just 16 UEFA Champions League games for City, finding the net every 75 minutes on average. Guardiola is likely to start Álvarez through the middle once again on Wednesday. However, with top spot already secured, he could see this as a chance to rest players.

Kevin De Bruyne remains the only other long-term absentee from Guardiola’s world-class lineup, with the Belgian playmaker not expected back from a thigh injury until January, while Jérémy Doku will likely not feature for Wednesday’s kick-off in Belgrade after missing the Villa and Luton games with a muscular issue sustained against Tottenham.

In stark contrast to the visiting defending champions, Crvena Zvezda are guaranteed to finish bottom of this Champions League group – the third time out of three attempts they have done so in the group stage (also in 2018-19 and 2019-20). It is the joint most group stages competed in by a team while finishing last each time, along with Maribor, KRC Genk and Malmö FF.

The Serbian side have shipped 49 goals in 17 matches in this competition, an average of 2.9 per game. The current fastest a team has conceded 50 goals is 18 games, set by Swedish side Malmö. By comparison, the last 49 goals Man City have conceded in the competition have come over a period of 60 matches.

Barak Bakhar’s side can at least take solace from their position in the Serbian SuperLiga league table, competing at the summit with FK Partizan after defeating FK Mladost Lučani 3-1 on Saturday – their 14th league win in 17 games this term.

Crvena Zvezda vs Manchester City Head-to-Head

Crvena Zvezda lost their only previous European meeting with Man City on MD1 of this season’s Champions League as an Álvarez double and a goal for Rodri made Osman Bukari’s unlikely opener irrelevant in a 3-1 victory for Guardiola’s side at the Etihad Stadium.

man city 3-1 crvena Zvezda stats

Indeed, Bakhar’s men have lost their last three games against English teams in the competition after Tottenham also completed a group-stage double over the Serbian side in the 2019-20 campaign, winning 5-0 at home before a 4-0 away triumph.

Overall, English teams have won three of their last four major European visits to Crvena Zvezda, with Bolton winning in 2007 (UEFA Cup), Arsenal in 2017 (Europa League) and Spurs in 2019 (Champions League). The exception was Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who lost 2-0 in a Champions League group stage game in November 2018.

Recent Form

Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 18 Champions League matches (W13 D5), winning their opening five games this season as they eased into yet another last-16 draw in which they will enjoy a seeded position.

If last season’s treble winners avoid defeat in this game, it would be the joint second-longest run of games without defeat in the Champions League, with Ajax (19 between 1994 and 1996) and Bayern Munich (two runs of 19 between 2001 and 2002 & 2019 and 2021) having 19-game runs. The record is 25 games, set by City’s fierce rivals Manchester United between 2007 and 2009.

City have also won their last seven games in the competition (including two in 2022-23), and a win against Crvena Zvezda would be a record for consecutive wins by an English team in European Cup/Champions League history.

By contrast, Bakhar’s team lost their last home Champions League match 2-1 against RB Leipzig, but Crvena Zvezda haven’t lost consecutive home major European matches since 4-0 and 6-0 defeats to Tottenham and Bayern Munich respectively in November 2019.

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off on Wednesday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Crvena Zvezda vs Manchester City Prediction

Crvena Zvezda vs Manchester City Prediction

Unsurprisingly, Guardiola’s City are touted as the heavy favourites for victory here, with the Opta supercomputer predicting an away win in 82.7% of 10,000 its data-powered simulations compared to a Crvena Zvezda triumph in just 7.1%.

A draw may be the Serbian giants’ best hope, with that result likely in only 10.2% of scenarios, owing to the stark contrast in quality between these two sides.

Indeed, Man City still rank as favourites in the Opta model for winning the entire Champions League, with a 29.4% chance of defending their title and a remarkable 45.4% of reaching yet another final.

Crvena Zvezda vs Manchester City UCL Squads

Crvena Zvezda: Zoran Popović, Omri Glazer, Nikola Vasiljević, Kosta Nedeljković, Miloš Degenek, Uroš Spajić, Aleksandar Dragović, Nemanja Milunović, Milan Rodić, Nasser Djiga, Mirko Ivanić, Marko Stamenic, Jovan Šljivić, Guélor Kanga, Aleksandar Katai, Kings Kangwa, Osman Bukari, Srdjan Mijailović, Vladimir Lučić, Andrija Maksimović, Inbeom Hwang, Uroš Kabić, Stefan Mitrović, Cherif Ndiaye, Peter Olayinka, Jean-Philippe Krasso, Jovan Mijatović.

Head Coach: Barak Bakhar

Manchester City: Stefan Ortega, Ederson, Scott Carson, Kyle Walker, Rúben Dias, John Stones, Nathan Aké, Sergio Gómez, Joško Gvardiol, Manuel Akanji, Kalvin Phillips, Mateo Kovačić, Jack Grealish, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Matheus Nunes, Phil Foden, Erling Haaland, Jérémy Doku, Julián Álvarez.

Head Coach: Pep Guardiola.

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