SPORTING ALERT – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has left Joe Hart on the bench again today for the Champions League qualifying playoff clash against FC Steaua Bucuresti at National Arena.
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Hart, who was left on the bench for the Premier League season opener against Sunderland over the weekend, is once again ignored by Guardiola, who opts to start again with Willy Caballero in goal.
Meanwhile, Pablo Zabaleta captains the Premier League outfits tonight in Europe, as regular skipper Vincent Kompany remains on the sideline due to an injury.
Zabaleta will be joined in the back four by John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, who are paired off in the heart of the defence and Aleksandar Kolarov, who will join his captain in the full-back position.
Zabaleta will line up on the right and Kolarov is on the left.
Fernandinho will be the holding midfielder, with David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Nolito and Sergio Aguero playing in advanced positions.
Besides Hart, Bacary Sagna, Fernando, Jesus Navas, Fabian Delph, Gael Clichy and Kelechi Iheanacho are also on the bench.
Box-to-box midfielder Yaya Toure, who is being strongly linked with a move away from Manchester City, did not travel with the Premier League side and will, therefore, play no part in this contest.
Meanwhile, Romania’s Nicolae Stanciu is among the starters for FC Steaua Bucuresti who could disrupt Manchester City on the road.
Meanwhile, according to the stats gurus, Steaua have not won any of their last 12 Champions League group matches at home and could struggle to deal with the wealth of talent in the Manchester City squad.
The home side’s only win in 21 home group games was in 1996.
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Steaua Bucuresti: Nita, Enache, Tamas, Tosca, Momcilovic, Achim, Sulley, Popa, Stanciu, Hamroun, Golubovic. Subs: Cojocaru, Mitrea, Tudorie, Aganovic, Ovidiu Popescu, Daniel Popescu, Bourceanu
Manchester City: Caballero, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Stones, Kolarov, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva, Sterling, Aguero, Nolito. Subs: Hart, Sagna, Fernando, Jesus Navas, Delph, Clichy, Iheanacho
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy)