Six reasons why Manchester City are playing Juventus at the perfect time

Sergio Aguero may be absent but Manchester City fans should be optimistic going into an Etihad encounter with last season's Champions League finalists.

As Champions League openers go, a game against one of last season's finalists is just about as tough as it gets.

But the truth is that Manchester City are probably facing Juventus at the best possible time with the Sky Blues in sensational form and the Old Lady looking more than a little unsteady on her feet.

The loss of Sergio Aguero is a big one but with Juve enduring a Chelsea-like start to the season in Serie A, there are plenty of reasons why Manuel Pellegrini's side may be playing the Bianconeri at the best possible time.

Here are six of them.

1. The terrible start

A 1-1 home draw with Chievo may have stopped the rot last weekend but, in truth, Juventus were lucky to get even that with Paulo Dybala's late leveller coming from a hotly-contested penalty.

That draw ensured Juventus avoided their worst ever start to a league season since 1912 though the haul of one point from the first nine available is still their worst start since the 1962-63 season - when they lost out to Inter Milan in the race for the Scudetto.

2. The dodgy defence

Once dubbed Juventus' answer to Real Madrid's very own BBC, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have looked decidedly dodgy so far this term.

Last term it took the Old Lady 13 games to concede the four goals they have already shipped in the first three games of the current Serie A campaign. The old guard is creaking.

3. The fan backlash

Juventus fans are a seemingly quite a fickle bunch. Despite winning the Scudetto in each of the previous four seasons, many have already expressed their unhappiness at the slow start to the season.

Gianluigi Buffon spoke to the disgruntled supporters at half-time against Chievo in a bid to gee up more support while Bonucci has already hit out at fans via Instagram.

He wrote: "It's easy to come to the stadium and applaud when everything is going well. A real fan applauds when the going gets tough to help the team. Juventus consists of those who go out on the pitch, those who are on the bench, those who come to the stadium and those in front of the TV; Juventus' motto is that we are united until the end. Believe in Juventus, in the team and in the project. We always need to be positive. Now we are thinking of the Champions League."

Expect a muted away following.

4. The absent all-stars

The Old Lady squad underwent a major overhaul this summer, with several major first-team stars that played a pivotal role in their Champions League campaign now missing.

Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez – who all made the 10-man shortlist for the 2014/15 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award – have left and their replacements have, so far, failed to gel.

5. The missing link

The losses of Vidal and Pirlo have left Juventus lacking leadership but allied to this is the continued absence of Claudio Marchisio who previously helped link up play between the Bianconeri attack and defence.

Having struggled with hamstring problems this season, the 29-year-old was forced off at against Chievo and is set to be sidelined for at least 30 days with an abductor strain. His loss will be keenly felt.

6. The misfiring striker

Despite recruiting a raft of  attacking talent over the summer, Juventus have so far failed to spark in the final third, with the Turin club boasting the fifth worst record in front of goal in Serie A.

Against Chievo they huffed and puffed with 25 attempts to their name and yet last season's champions managed just one goal - from the penalty spot. The main culprit so far this season has been Mario Mandzukic but that's hardly a surprise.

Jettisoned by Diego Simeone over the summer, the Croatian last scored a league goal back in February in a run of 11 top-flight games without a goal to his name.

Register for MANCHESTER CITY team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch