Man City's predicted XI vs Man Utd as Guardiola makes big FA Cup final gamble

Pep Guardiola is aiming for back-to-back league and cup doubles. (Image: Getty)

Manchester City will return to Wembley Stadium for the third time in eight months this afternoon, as they take on Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

Pep Guardiola’s men edged a nervy one-goal contest against Chelsea in the semi-final, with rivals United needing a penalty shoot-out to get past Championship side Coventry City.

This year’s showpiece event is a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final, which an Ilkay Gundogan-inspired City went on to win 2-1.

Should the outcome repeat itself this time around, City will become the first team in English history to win back-to-back Premier League and FA Cup doubles.

And ahead of the final, Express Sport have run through the City team most likely to start at Wembley.

Stefan Ortega lifted his second Premier League title last weekend. (Image: Getty)

Goalkeeper: Ortega

No surprises here, mainly because Stefan Ortega is the most senior goalkeeper available in the City ranks.

Even though City’s cup goalkeeper would’ve played regardless, Guardiola’s hand has been forced after No.1 pick Ederson went off injured during City’s penultimate game of the Premier League campaign.

Regardless, Ortega is an adept pair of hands and has conceded just two goals during City’s run to the final.

Defence: Walker, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol

At times shaky this season, the City backline did click into gear during the title run-in, with Ruben Dias’ form key to the Blues’ success.

The imperious centre-back is likely to retain his spot, alongside club captain Kyle Walker and left-back sensation Josko Gvardiol.

That would leave just one spot in the City defence up for grabs, and while Manuel Akanji has been first-choice for much of the campaign, Guardiola did hand Nathan Ake 20 minutes off the bench on Sunday. Perhaps a nod to his team selection this weekend?

Manchester City’s defenders celebrating the Premier League title. (Image: Getty)

Midfield: Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden

Eyebrows were raised ahead of the final league game of the season when Mateo Kovacic – who had started the previous three matches – dropped to the bench.

It’s a front-foot move that clearly worked for Guardiola, as City found themselves ahead after just two minutes, with Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne working in unison all afternoon.

Expect the deadly duo to start under the Wembley Arch today, with the ever-reliable Rodri assuming his usual position just in front of the back four.

Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne have shone for City this season. (Image: Getty)

Forwards: Bernardo, Haaland, Doku

Jeremy Doku was the man who came in for Kovacic against West Ham, and given he played a key role in helping City across the Premier League line, it’s likely Guardiola will retain his trust in the 21-year-old.

His inclusion could be the only gamble on this afternoon’s team sheet, with Bernardo Silva – who may be playing his last-ever game for City – operating from the opposite flank.

Whereas leading the line for the Premier League champions will be 38-goal man Erling Haaland, who is still yet to score at Wembley.

Predicted Man City XI – Ortega; Walker, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol; Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden; Bernardo, Haaland, Doku

Jeremy Doku has impressed in City’s last two outings. (Image: Getty)

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1903317/Man-City-Starting-XI-Man-United-FA-Cup-final