Lahm lay-off lends Man City hope in Champions League Bayern battle
Manchester City supporters and players alike have been buoyed by the news that Bayern Munich skipper Philipp Lahm has broken his ankle in training, and will miss their upcoming Champions League encounter. It is effectively win or bust for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, and Coral make them 9/4 chances for victory on November 25th.
Germany’s World Cup winning captain Lahm, 31, is out for three months following this serious injury sustained in training and, on the other side of the coin, Bayern boss Pep Guardiola is losing a hugely influential player until the New Year.
Lahm has made the most passes in the final third (127) in this season’s Champions League so far, while he leads Munich’s Bundesliga chances created (26). Guardiola is now depleted in midfield, as his skipper joins long-term injury absentees Thiago Alcantara, vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez.
This leaves former Liverpool star Xabi Alonso as the only experienced senior name in that area available to Bayern. Summer signing Sebastian Rode or teenager Gianluca Gaudino should partner the ex-Spain centurion, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid last term.
Defence is also weakened by Lahm’s absence, as he also still occasionally turns out in his original full back position. Austria international David Alaba and injury-prone Holger Badstuber are both unlikely to play again this year.
Such a lengthy list on the treatment table may force Guardiola to abandon the ambitious 3-4-3 formation he has employed throughout Bayern’s perfect Champions League campaign so far, in favour of a back four.
Brazilian duo Dante and Rafinha, as well as summer signings Mehdi Benatia and Juan Bernat, are the only fully fit defenders at his disposal anyway, although Jerome Boateng is expected to shake off muscle problems to face former club City.
Pellegrini’s men are 9/2 outsiders to qualify from Champions League Group E, though, as they are yet to win in Europe’s elite club competition this term. Munich have this pool sown up as winners with two games to spare, while CSKA Moscow and Roma are two points ahead of City.