Manchester City Begin Champions League Defence Without Injured Players
Manchester City will be without the injured John Stones, Jack Grealish, Mateo Kovacic and Kevin de Bruyne as they open their Champions League defence against Red Star Belgrade. The reigning champions are looking to defend their title, but will have to do so without some of their key players.
## Injury Woes for Manchester City
Defender Stones has not played since the Community Shield, while midfielder Grealish suffered a knock before the international break. Kovacic was injured while on Croatia duty, while De Bruyne is out long term. The injuries have left manager Pep Guardiola with a depleted squad as they look to defend their title.
## Last Season’s Success
City beat Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul in last season’s final, and Guardiola is confident that his team can repeat the success of last season. He said: “Every season we start the competition in the first game with the target to win the first game, then the group stage, then try to win the Champions League. Nothing changes from before. The same for Red Star tomorrow [Tuesday]. It depends on our performance and our level. We’re incredibly happy to defend this crown but this competition doesn’t allow you mistakes.”
## Red Star Belgrade
Red Star won last season’s Serbian title without losing a game, but they changed managers this summer and have lost two of their last three games under Barak Bakhar. Despite their recent form, Guardiola is taking nothing for granted and is expecting a tough game. He said: “But always we were so strong at home, nine points from nine. When that happens you can win just one game away and you qualify. Tomorrow is the first step.”
Manchester City will be looking to get off to a winning start in their Champions League defence, but they will have to do so without some of their key players due to injury. Guardiola is confident that his team can repeat the success of last season, but he is taking nothing for granted against Red Star Belgrade. The game will be a good test of City’s strength and depth as they look to defend their title.