Manchester City, buoyed by the return of Yaya Toure, will look to seal a spot in the Champions League knockout stage when they travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday to play a team struggling for form.
Toure, banned by coach Pep Guardiola following comments by his agent about the manager, returned from a three-month exile to score both goals in City’s 2-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Guardiola’s decision to restore the Ivorian has further boosted spirits, already high with the team just a point behind leaders Chelsea in the Premier League.
“His personality and his quality are there to see,” Guardiola said. “He can play many positions. We now have one more man that can help us achieve our targets this season.”
“With this intensity, we’re going to play in the Champions League,” said the Spaniard, whose team will advance with a win or a draw.
City, who crushed Gladbach 4-0 at home in September, are in second place in the group on seven points, three ahead of the Germans, and can wrap up qualification with victory in Germany.
A draw will be enough if Celtic lose at home to Barcelona in the other Group C fixture.
Barcelona are top on nine, with Celtic in last place on two.
The Germans, who also lost at home to City last season, will secure third spot and Europa League action if they draw and Celtic lose.
They still have an outside chance for a top two finish but their last group match is at Barcelona.
Gladbach, however, are stuck in a rut, having failed to win any of their last six league matches in which they have scored just one goal.
Their last victory in any competition dates back to October in the German Cup.
Coach Andre Schubert, who still has the backing of club bosses but was jeered following Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Cologne, will be without suspended Christoph Kramer and Julian Korb as well as injured Patrick Herrmann.
“We are just not scoring goals,” captain Lars Stindl said. “We are missing the final touch up front and some luck. But we must forget everything, put everything behind us and keep together so that we can improve.”
“Wednesday’s match is completely different under different conditions,” he said. “We want to play a good home game, secure third place early. That is our big goal and we believe in our chances. We know what we are capable of.”