Good evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for tonight's EFL Cup
semi-final second leg between Burton Albion
and Manchester City
at the Pirelli Stadium!
They say that anything can happen in football, but I think we can safely rule out any possibility of a Burton comeback in this tie tonight following their 9-0 drubbing in the first leg earlier this month. It does not diminish the size of Burton's achievement making it this far, though, and they will look to salvage some pride against what is expected to be a depleted Man City side tonight.
Speaking of the team news, let's have a look at it...
MAN CITY STARTING XI:
Muric; Danilo, Sandler, Garcia, Zinchenko; Delph, Foden, De Bruyne; Poveda, Mahrez, Aguero
SUBS: Grimshaw, Stones, Mendy, Jesus, F Nmecha, Bolton, Richards
BURTON STARTING XI:
Collins; McFadzean, Turner, Akins, Templeton, McCrory, Harness, Miller, Wallace, Quinn, Boyce
SUBS: Bywater, Brayford, Buxton, Sbarra, Fox, Hutchinson, Daniel
Well, Burton's hopes of some respite have diminished somewhat after seeing that Man City team, which does include some youngsters as promised but also includes some notable first-teamers.
Chief among them are Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, the latter of whom leads the line as Gabriel Jesus - scorer of four goals in the reverse fixture - only makes it to the bench. Jesus will not be too upset by that, though, as it suggests that he may be involved in the FA Cup this weekend instead.
De Bruyne has only recently returned from his latest injury problem of what has been a hugely disrupted season so far, and he will have the chance to get some more minutes under his belt tonight after completing his first full game of the campaign at Huddersfield on Sunday.
The Belgian opened the scoring in the first leg and has now contributed to 13 goals in his 13 League Cup appearances for City, scoring nine and creating four more.
As if the presence of Aguero and De Bruyne wa snot enough, Man City are also able to bring Riyad Mahrez into the team while still giving Sterling and Sane the night off completely.
The fact that the champions were able to spend £60m on a second-string player last summer is perhaps the best indication in the gulf between these two sides, and it is no surprise that Burton were no helpless to compete in the first leg.
Fabian Delph, Danilo and perhaps Zinchenko are also regarded as experienced first-team players - even if none of them would probably get into a full-strength XI - so it is very much a mixture of experience and youth in the team today.
In fairness to Danilo too, he has been starting ahead of Walker, Zinchenko and Delph recently and opened the scoring during the weekend with over Huddersfield, albeit with a deflected effort.
Today will act as a valuable run-out for the likes of Sandler, Garcia and Poveda, while Phil Foden also gets another chance to impress having been tipped as the next big thing to emerge from Man City.
There is also a notable inclusion on the bench as Benjamin Mendy is included after two months out with a knee injury, and Guardiola will no doubt take this chance to give him some minutes tonight.
As for Burton, they are without both Scott Fraser and Jamie Allen as they refuse to take any risks with their players knowing that the league is their one and only priority now.
Fraser was forced to come off during the weekend draw with Doncaster due to a knee injury, while Allen has been playing despite an ankle problem in recent weeks and so this is an ideal chance to rest him.
The hosts are also without Josh Clarke, who is cup-tied, and Colin Daniel, who is ineligible to feature having signed for Burton since the first leg took place.
Clough's options are slightly limited, then, and he has made changes from both the weekend and the first leg too in an attempt to keep his side fresh ahead of what is now a much more important game against Bradford at the weekend.
Indeed, there are no fewer than six changes from the weekend as McFadzean, Turner, Templeton, McCrory, Miller and Wallace all come into the team, with Clarke, Brayford, Buxton, Hutchinson, Allen and Fraser all dropping out.
Brayford actually scored both of Burton's goals against Doncaster at the weekend, but has to make do with a place on the bench tonight.
Whether Nigel Clough
is of the view that he is taking players out of the firing line or giving them the chance to play against one of the best teams in Europe only he will know, but his side look to be in for another difficult night tonight.
It is an occasion they should enjoy, of course, as Burton will not be in this position often, but it is a lot easier said than done when you find yourself nine goals down and unable to even get near the ball.
That was the case in the first leg as Man City ran riot in a record-breaking scoreline for a semi-final of a cup competition, and Nigel Clough
has already admitted that simply scoring a goal would be considered a "wonderful" achievement for his side tonight.
In truth, another drubbing looks more likely than that, but regardless of what the aggregate scoreline ends up as, nothing should be taken away from Burton's run to this stage.
This is the first time in Burton's modest history that they have ever reached the last four of a major cup competition so they have already broken new ground for the club this season.
Indeed, for a club that only became a Football League side 10 years ago to be in the last four alongside Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur is a superb feat and the home fans will cherish the run to the semi-finals forever despite what happened in the first leg.
What a run it has been too; Burton have already beaten four teams from higher divisions in this season's competition, including a Premier League outfit in the shape of Burnley.
Clough's side have also overcome Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough, having begun their campaign with a 2-1 triumph over Shrewsbury Town, so they are no strangers to upsetting the odds. Any semblance of a recovery in the tie looks impossible, but they can still put in a good showing on the night.
Burton have not lost back-to-back matches in this competition since August 2011, although that looks like happening tonight with the Brewers sat 55 places below Man City in the Football League ladder.
Clough's side sit in mid-table in League One, although even that lofty a position is a little misleading as they are 11 points adrift of the playoff places and only six clear of the relegation zone.
The Brewers come into this match having won just one of their last six games across all competitions too, and since their first-leg hammering they have then been beaten at home by Gillingham and then drawn with Doncaster.
The 9-0 scoreline obviously skews things massively, but it does mean that Burton have now conceded 14 goals in their last three outings, which is the same number as they had shipped in the previous 13.
Burton have won all three of their home games in this season's EFL Cup so far, though, and they have not lost back-to-back matches in front of their own fans since March.
Clough's side have also won two of their last three home games against Premier League opposition, while Clough himself has only ever lost one of their five such matches in the past.
The hosts will know that the tie is long dead, but if they can shake that off and believe in an upset in tonight's match then we could still be in for something special here.
has promised that his side will not let up, though, and he will be demanding an improvement from the performance at the weekend, despite winning 3-0 at Huddersfield.
City lacked their usual zip and intensity for much of the match, particularly in the first half despite Danilo's deflected opener. It took two goals in as many minutes from Sterling and then Sane to finally wrap the points up towards the start of the second half.
It must be difficult not to develop a slight degree of complacency with a 9-0 lead, though, and Guardiola's decision to bring in youngsters could help to keep the tempo up as they look to impress the boss.
City need only three goals to record the largest aggregate win in League Cup history, with an 11-goal margin having been achieved on five previous occasions.
Man City are also looking to create their own little slice of club history tonight as they aim to reach successive League Cup finals for the first time - an achievement it is safe to assume they will succeed in.
The last team to both reach and win consecutive finals in this competition were Manchester United in 2008-09 and 2009-10, while Man City are bidding to retain any trophy for the first time in their entire history.
City's success in this tournament in recent years has seen them string together a run of 10 successive EFL Cup wins - a run which stretches back to October 2016.
That includes victories over Oxford United, Fulham and Leicester to make it this far, although they did need a penalty shootout to overcome the latter at the King Power Stadium.
Man City have only conceded one goal in their last five EFL Cup games, and in the Premier League this season no team has let in fewer on their travels, with City shipping only seven.
The champions have now won back-to-back away games after a wobble on the road in December, during which time they failed to win inside 90 minutes for three games - although that does include their penalty shootout victory in the triumph over Leicester.
City have now won their last six games across all competitions, and remarkably they have scored 24 in their last five since the turn of the year, conceding just once in the process.
Indeed, Guardiola's side have now kept four clean sheets in a row having failed to keep a single one in 11 games before that, while at the other end they have now passed the triple-figure mark for goals scored across all competitions - more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues.
Despite all that, the champions are still playing catch-up in the Premier League title race with Liverpool remaining four points clear at the top of the table.
Man City will have the chance to put more pressure on Jurgen Klopp's side over the next couple of weeks as they play before the Reds, but Liverpool have shown few signs of wilting under that pressure so far.
Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff at the Pirelli Stadium, which means that it is time for a prediction!
Burton should put up a better fight tonight at home against a weaker Man City side, but it is still hard to see past an away win. Should the floodgates open again then there is the possibility it could run into double figures.
SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Burton 0-5 Man City
The only previous competitive meeting between these two sides was that first leg on January 9, when Burton suffered their biggest defeat since becoming a Football League side in 2009-10.
Gabriel Jesus was the star of the show with four goals, while De Bruyne, Zinchenko, Foden, Walker and Mahrez all weighed in with goals too.
Burton had only one shot all night at the Etihad Stadium, and that arrived after just seven seconds through Lucas Akins.
Strange as it might sound, Nigel Clough may have been pretty happy with how his side were performing in the opening half an hour, but it was after that that City truly let loose with the goals.
That 9-0 result is the biggest ever margin of victory in a semi-final of an English cup competition, and anything less than nine tonight will be considered a minor triumph.
The main target for the hosts tonight is to score a goal, which would send the home fans wild, but they will also not want to be on the end of another huge scoreline even if they do manage to get one of their own.
Right, we're nearing time for kickoff at the chilly Pirelli Stadium, so let's have a quick reminder of the team news before we do get underway...
BURTON STARTING XI: Collins; McFadzean, Turner, Akins, Templeton, McCrory, Harness, Miller, Wallace, Quinn, Boyce
MAN CITY STARTING XI: Muric; Danilo, Sandler, Garcia, Zinchenko; Delph, Foden, De Bruyne; Poveda, Mahrez, Aguero
KICKOFF: Here we go, then! Man City get us underway at the Pirelli Stadium!
Burton were always going to try to start quickly here - or at least full of energy in front of their own fans - and they are putting the effort in during the opening exchanges. Man City controlling the early possession as expected, though.
It is a freezing night at the Pirelli Stadium tonight, and whether that has any impact on the pitch plays remains to be seen. Burton will take whatever slim advantage they can get!
City are just knocking the ball about amongst themselves at the moment. No great urgency to their play at the moment, but there is no great call for it in truth.
Burton were already a goal behind at this stage in the first leg, so they are faring better tonight than they were then already! No chances to speak of in the opening 10 minutes or so.
I suspect this will be the pattern of the vast majority of this match, with Man City passing the ball about and probing for an opening, which will surely open eventually. They may have to be a little more patient tonight, though.
CHANCE! City do create their first chance of the night as Delph's pass over the top is too high for McCrory and releases Mahrez in behind. The winger gets a little luck with his first touch, but then fires wide from a tight angle.
Poor from Delph as he gives the ball away inside his own half and then dives into a challenge which concedes a cheap free kick in a dangerous crossing position. Complacent play from Delph there!
SAVE! Quinn whips the free kick in low and Boyce does really well to get a clever backheel flick on it, but Muric is down to make the save.
That was just a minor scare for City, and a warning shot for what happens if they do let their performance levels drop as Delph's two mistakes were almost punished.
SHOT! Mahrez collects the ball on the right and cuts inside before trying to curl his shot into the top corner from the edge of his box, but this time his trademark finish flies wide of the target.
More sloppy play from City as a misplaced pass gives Harness a glimmer of the ball. He beats Zinchenko to it down the right and pulls a low cross into the box, but De Bruyne is there to intercept.
Aguero darts down the right channel and tries to get on the end of Mahrez's pass in towards him, but he slips at the vital moment and takes a chunk of the turf with him. He isn't the first to lose his footing tonight.
Well, we're a quarter of the way through this match and it hasn't been entirely one-sided so far. Burton will be wary that City only led 1-0 until the 30th minute in the first leg, though.
This pitch may have a part to play in this game after all - quite a few players are losing their footing now.
GOAL! BURTON 0-1 MAN CITY (SERGIO AGUERO)
GOAL! Goal number 10 of the tie arrives for Man City as Sergio Aguero tucks home a smart finish from Mahrez's low pass. De Bruyne kicked the move off with a lovely pass to release Mahrez, who was unselfish in teeing up his striker.
SHOT! A shot for the hosts in response to that opening goal as McCrory drops the ball back to Miller, who fires wide of the far post from range.
Here is that first goal of the night and, while we may not have nine again this evening, I suspect it will not be our last either...
Another lovely move from City sees them get behind down the left flank and it looks as though Aguero will have another golden chance here, but the flag is raised against Zinchenko just as he was about to release the trigger.
CLOSE! Muric gets away with one here! He takes his eye off a back-pass from Garcia and almost lets it go under his foot, but he scrambles back in time to hack it clear from inside his own six-yard box.
Aguero skips away from McFadzean and goes down under his challenge, gifting Man City a free kick inside the Burton half. Too far out for a shot, but De Bruyne is standing over it...
CHANCE! An attempted quick free kick is called back by the ref, but eventually De Bruyne does swing it in. Garcia loses his marker at the back post but cannot get good enough contact on the ball.
Trouble for Burton here as Turner goes down off the ball and will require treatment. He is not moving freely at all here.
BURTON SUB: Indeed, Burton are forced into a change as Turner is replaced by Reece Hutchinson.
The clock ticks down towards half time and Burton will be pretty pleased with themselves being only one behind. City have been nowhere near their best and are simply cruising, but Burton can still be proud to have largely held their own.
Sterling seems happy not to be there tonight...
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
HALF TIME: BURTON ALBION 0-1 MANCHESTER CITY (MAN CITY LEAD 10-0 ON AGGREGATE)
The first half comes to an end, and it is only the one goal for Man City this time around.
The holders were four up by this stage in the first leg, as well as registering 14 more shots on target, but Burton have held their own for much of this match so far. The aggregate score has gone to 10, but the hosts will be pretty content with how they have performed so far.
The only goal of the game so far arrived after 26 minutes when Sergio Aguero swept home a routine finish following some really good movement inside the box.
De Bruyne and Mahrez - City's two other real stars on the field - combined to create the chance as De Bruyne released Mahrez through and the latter teed up Aguero for the finish.
The best chances aside from the goal have also fallen to Man City, although it has not been quite as one-sided as the first leg was so far.
Mahrez will feel as though he should have a goal to his name having put two good chances wide of the far post, both of which seemed perfectly set up for him.
Burton's best chance came from a free kick after 14 minutes when Boyce produced a clever flick which only lacked the power to beat Muric.
That is the home side's only shot on target, but they have had the odd sight of goal which will encourage them to believe that they may at least be able to score tonight. Indeed, as long as the deficit remains one then even avoiding defeat is not out of the question.
KICKOFF: Burton get us back underway for the second half, and the hosts have made a change at the break as Ben Fox replaces Quinn.
SHOT! Smart turn from Templeton in midfield and then he tries his luck from range, but his strike flies well over the crossbar.
The danger for Burton tonight is that they run out of steam the longer the game progresses. They are hounding Man City high up the pitch and expending a lot of energy chasing the ball.
You have to admire the desire and spirit of these Burton players. You expect that at the very least, of course, but after such a heavy defeat in the first leg to still be putting everything into this tie is admirable.
McFadzean strides out of defence and shapes to shoot, but he then tries to thread the ball through only to pass it straight out of play.
CHANCE! Big chance for Man City to double their lead as Danilo bursts forward before clipping a cross into the box. Delph completely misses his first attempt but then gets a second bite at the cherry, and the keeper does really well to keep it out.
Burton go straight up the other end and, after Muric again survives a brief scare, the hosts have a penalty shout which is quickly turned down by both the ref and then VAR.
There was contact between Danilo and Templeton in that challenge inside the area, but not enough for a penalty. Worth asking a question from Burton, though.
Benjamin Mendy is going through some warm-up runs on the touchline, as well as some resistance work with the physios. He will be introduced at some point tonight, but how many minutes will Guardiola give him?
Good play from Templeton as he skips into the area, past Danilo and to the byline. His end product is lacking, though, and City are able to clear.
CHANCE! Big, big chance for Aguero to double his tally! De Bruyne slides a pass through for Foden, who catches it before it reaches the byline and pulls it back for the goalscorer. Aguero looks certain to score, but he somehow puts it wide! VAR may have ruled it out for offside against Foden, but Aguero was not to know that!
MAN CITY SUBS: Mendy will get just under half an hour tonight as he comes on as part of a double sub which also sees Gabriel Jesus introduced as Aguero and De Bruyne depart.
This is not exactly an ideal surface for Mendy to make his return on, getting more and more icy by the minute, but he will be delighted to be back out there nonetheless.
MAN CITY SUB: Man City make their third and final change as Felix Nmecha replaces Zinchenko. It's a debut for Nmecha.
CHANCE! Mahrez slips a nice pass in for Danilo, who seems to be caught in two minds before feeding the ball in for Jesus and going for goal himself. In the end he does neither and passes it wide of the far post.
OFF THE LINE! So nearly the moment Burton have been waiting for! A slip from Sandler allows Boyce through on goal, but his heavy touch means that Muric is able to come out and thwart him. The ball bounces to Miller, though, and his effort is blocked on the line by a fine piece of defending from Garcia!
That may well be the best chance Burton get in this entire tie. Again the pitch played a part, but they will be kicking themselves for not drawing level there.
Just over 15 minutes remaining now and still the deficit remains just one. Burton will know from that chance there that they could still salvage something from this game.
Burton are warming up their final sub of the night now. Will it be a final throw of the dice from Clough to get something out of this game?
BURTON SUB: It is not the most attacking sub he could have made, but it is a straight swap up front as Colin Daniel replaces Boyce.
Burton have matched Man City for shots and shots on target in this second half now. It has been a spirited display from the hosts, although Man City have been much poorer than we expect from them.
A reminder that Man City are still only one goal away from equalling the biggest ever aggregate victory in this competition, and need just two in these closing stages to set their own record.
Burton have not given up hope of getting a goal by any stretch of the imagination here. They are still chasing down everything and you have to admire their attitude.
Just five minutes remaining now, and this scoreline would be a win of sorts for Burton after being so ruthlessly swatted aside a fortnight ago. Even at 10-0 on aggregate, though, you suspect Guardiola will not be entirely pleased with his own side's display.
SHOT! Akins cuts inside and tries his luck from range, but the effort zips wide of the target.
CHANCE! Chance for Man City to get that record as Danilo feeds the ball in to Jesus, who just cannot get his feet sorted by Collins closes him down and stops the eventual shot.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this match.
SAVE! Danilo curls a free kick towards goal and it is moving a lot in the area, but it ends up quite central and Collins is there to tip it over the top.
FULL TIME: BURTON ALBION 0-1 MANCHESTER CITY (MAN CITY WIN 10-0 ON AGGREGATE)
MANCHESTER CITY ARE IN THE 2019 EFL CUP FINAL!
The history books will say a 10-0 aggregate defeat for Burton, then, but they salvaged plenty of pride with this performance today as they limited the might of Man City to only one goal at the Pirelli Stadium - and they may have even nicked a draw too.
Sergio Aguero got the only goal of the game for Pep Guardiola's side, though, who will now attempt to retain the trophy at Wembley on February 24 against either Tottenham or Chelsea. They will find out their opponents tomorrow!
Right, that is all we have time for this evening!
Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's contest as Man City confirm their place in the EFL Cup final despite a spirited display from Burton Albion. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.
From me, though, it is goodbye for now!