So close for Cheltenham!
May bursts through City’s back line and fizzes a first-time shot at goal, which Steffen pushes round the post.
City go close, Mahrez whipping a ball into the box from deep which Gabriel Jesus heads wide.
Ferran Torres wants a penalty after Tozer clears the ball off his chest with a high boot, but Stuart Attwell isn’t interested.
Torres almost scores moments later, but Cheltenham keeper Josh Griffiths gets down low and makes a good save.
Benjamin Mendy gathers up a loose ball on the edge of the box and lashes an effort on target. Ben Tozer manages to get back and head it away.
It’s been a set piece-fest so far, which bodes well for Cheltenham.
The two sides exchange free kicks, but both are defended well. Riyad Mahrez gets forward and pings a searching cross into the box, but Cheltenham clear.
Cheltenham make several forays forwards and eventually win a free kick in a dangerous position.
The ball is lofted into the area, but City just about scramble it away.
Cheltenham make a break up the right flank and Matty Blair gets a cross in, but Alfie May can’t quite convert.
It’s a decent start for the League Two side.
Teams are out
… and we’re about to kick off.
Are we about to witness the magic of the cup? Or the cold, hard science of probability?
Guardiola wary of Cheltenham’s set pieces
Asked how City can avoid an upset this evening, Guardiola says: “First is to know the opponent, to tell the players about the strengths that they have.
“They have their own qualities that we don’t find usually. [Their] throw-ins are better than one corner or one free kick, they create a lot of problems.”
Duff admits to ‘trepidation’
Speaking to the BBC before the game, Duff says: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s probably the biggest cup tie in the club’s history.
“There’s a little bit of trepidation, obviously, because they are such a good team. But this is why we’re in the FA Cup, we’ve had to win three really hard games to get this far, so the message to the players is: ‘Can you walk off the pitch with pride?’ Don’t walk off the pitch all nice and clean asking for somebody’s shirt, that’s not what we want to do.”
FA Cup cliche ranking: David-vs-Goliath
While there are 72 places between them and Manchester City in the league pyramid, that only tells half the story. The competitive, infrastructural and financial chasm between the two clubs is immeasurably vast.
Then again, one of the enduring joys of the FA Cup is that it occasionally throws up a result which defies all logic. The odds might be stacked in City’s favour in every conceivable way, but Cheltenham can live in hope.
City may be in for a bit of a culture shock at Whaddon Road, which isn’t quite as glossy as the average Premier League ground. “They’ll be getting changed in a bar,” confirmed Robins boss Michael Duff before the game.
“We’ll make it as hospitable as we can and the one thing they will like is the pitch. You are not going to get a Ronnie Radford scene where it’s a ploughed field.
“They will be able to play on it – we won’t be training on it to make it as bad as possible. We do pride ourselves on playing good football, we are not going to ruin the pitch for this one-off.”
Asked about City’s changing room arrangements in his pre-match press conference, Pep Guardiola saw the funny side. “Please, I only ask Cheltenham: do not leave beers in the bar before the game,” he laughed.
“We will be delighted to change in the bar, but no alcohol there because we want to win the game and be in perfect condition.”
Despite the huge gulf between the two clubs, Guardiola insisted that City won’t be fazed by their surroundings. “Everyone comes from the lower divisions, or do you believe when we are under-16 or under-18 we fly in private jets?” he said.
“We play in these stadiums all our careers, we don’t play in big stadiums all the time, we came from [clubs like] Cheltenham. People cannot forget that and it is a pleasure to play there.
“We were lucky to have success in our profession and go up the divisions, but we were there many times and we changed in bars as boys and we play football with incredible joy.
“We love this game and we change in these changing rooms for most of our careers, most of the time.”