Manchester City host Burton in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.
Here we look at five talking points as Nigel Clough’s League One side prepare to face Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions.
A gulf in class
Clough has made clear the huge difference between the two clubs in the build-up to the match. Burton may have already dispatched Premier League opposition in the competition this year, knocking out Burnley, and have a proud record in cup competitions that includes a goalless draw against Manchester United when the Brewers were still a non-league team.
But Clough said the top clubs in the country have moved on leaps and bounds since then and the comparisons – particularly going into a two-legged tie – are irrelevant. Will anybody back anything other than a comfortable City win?
As is common in the competition, Guardiola has used the League Cup to give his full squad a run-out. Aro Muric is expected to start in goal, while Phil Foden will hope to keep his place in midfield after scoring his first Etihad goal in Sunday’s 7-0 rout of Rotherham in the FA Cup.
Guardiola’s options have been cut with the departure of Carabao Cup regular Brahim Diaz to Real Madrid this week, but the strength in depth available to him means there is unlikely to be much good news for Burton when the team-sheets are distributed.
Clough may be under no illusions about the task facing his side and is telling them to enjoy the occasion, but the son of Brian was raised never to throw in the towel. He has insisted his side go out and give a proper account of themselves in the match, and to respect a competition he won twice as a player.
They have enjoyed a special run to get this far with victories over Aston Villa, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough – and though a two-legged tie is firmly against them, they will not go down without a fight.
Where it all started
The League Cup was the first trophy Guardiola won as a manager in England, with success last year coming amid City’s record-breaking Premier League campaign. Though he has been clear it ranks fourth out of four on his list of priorities for the season, the Catalan will not want to pass up a ticket to Wembley having been handed what should be a straightforward tie to get there.
Clough returns to City
It is not just the League Cup that holds special memories for Clough, but also City – his last senior club before he joined the then part-time Burton as player-manager in 1998. City are barely recognisable from the club he left though.
While he remembers Maine Road and a training ground in Moss Side which was open to the public, Clough admitted he has never set foot in the Etihad Stadium while the ground at City’s training complex has a higher capacity than Burton’s own Pirelli Stadium. It will make for a slightly strange reunion.News Now - Sport News