Schalke will have to produce a performance of a lifetime to make a comeback into this tie. Having conceded 3 valuable away goals, Schalke would need to win with a margin of at least two goals, which seems highly unlikely given Schalke’s domestic troubles coupled with an unimpressive run of form.
Here are 3 key battles which would play a key role in the outcome of this tie.
#3 Bentaleb vs Gundogan
Attacking is an area where Schalke have found themselves wanting this season. They rely on Bentaleb for the majority of their attacking plays, who excels at counter attacks. Even after playing in the midfield, his raw skill, ability to wiggle through tight spaces, and his eye for a killer pass, make him the fulcrum of Schalke attack. With Fernandinho out of the tie with injury, the onus will be on Gundogan(mostly) to keep Bentaleb in check.
#2 Oczipka vs Sterling
Raheem Sterling comes into this game in a red hot form after his hat-trick against Watford in the premier league taking his total tally to 15 goals and 9 assists. Ever since Pep joined City, Sterling has gone from strength to strength and will again be a major headache for the German side after scoring a 90th-minute winner in the first leg. Oczipka will face up against Sterling, who is most likely to play on the right side of the City attack. Oczipka will need to ensure Sterling has a quiet ineffective game if Schalke stand any chance to turn this tie.
#1 Sane vs Mattondo/McKennie
Schalke will be missing Caliguiri due to an ankle injury and will be in a fix as Caliguiri’s absence greatly weakens the right side of their defence. We can expect Mattondo or McKennie to step into Caliguiri’s place as right back or wingback. After playing a key role in City’s win in the first leg with a stunning free kick, Sane who’s likely to start this game after sitting out against Watford could again play a key role in this tie as he faces up against a makeshift defence in the absence of Caliguiri.