Barcelona v Man City – Camp Nou at 19:45 live on BT Sport 2
The standout Champions League fixture of the week and the group stages as a whole. Barcelona host Man City at the Camp Nou this evening in a mouthwatering tie that has the makings of a classic. I’ve had a mixed week with my Asian Handicap recommendations, but am confident there will be goals tonight.
It hasn’t been the most assured starts to a season from the Catalans. Barca have already dropped 7 points in 8 games in La Liga, losing to Celta Vigo and more surprisingly, at home to Alaves. They were also held by Atletico at the Camp Nou when strong favourites, but that can be forgiven.
In Europe, two wins from two and a goal difference of +8 puts them top of the table, 2 points above City. Their opening win, a 7-0 thumping at home to Celtic would have struck fear in City and Gladbach, but it wasn’t easy for Luis Enrique, away to the Germans last time out. It took 2 second half goals to seal the 3 points after going behind in the first half. Another far from convincing performance.
The international break seemed to come at the right time for Barca though, bouncing back after the defeat to Celta with a commanding performance and 4-0 win over Deportivo last weekend.
Leo Messi is back to full fitness and is a welcome return. He has always had a lot of success against English clubs and Pep knows exactly what he and the club are capable of.
All the talk is of Guardiola’s return to his former club with his new one. Between 2008 and 2012 he won everything he possibly could with Barcelona and will go down as one of the best managers the club has seen.
His most recent return to the Camp Nou came in May 2015, when his Bayern Munich were outclassed on their way to a 3-0 defeat. He will be desperate to avoid a similar result with City tonight.
Life couldn’t have started much better for Pep in Manchester, winning his first 10 competitive matches in charge. They looked invincible at times. averaging 3 goals per game in that 10 match spell. He’s been brought back to earth in his last 3 outings though.
A 3-3 draw at Celtic Park in their second UCL group match was followed by a 2-0 reversal at White Hart Lane. Last weekend they could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Everton, with De Bruyne and Aguero both missing from the spot.
The dip in form couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Citizen’s, with back to back matches against Barca in the Champions League. A loss tonight would make it very hard to top the group and will have them battling against Celtic and Gladbach for 2nd spot.
Pep knows this Barcelona side very well though and will play the only way he knows how, attack!
Asian Handicap & Total Goals
The Blaugrana haven’t lost in Europe on home soil in 40 matches and have scored at least two in their last 8 at home in the UCL.
They have also defeated Man City in each of their last 4 meetings in this competition, at an aggregate scoreline of 7-2. However, 3 of those defeats were by a single goal.
The 1.52 for a Barcelona win is right on the money for me. With the Asian Handicap line at -1 (1.87) or -1.25 (2.13) I’m not getting involved. I also can’t back Man City with a +1 or +1.25 advantage at 2.13 or 1.88 but the Asian goals line offers an edge.
Both sides excel in attack, Barcelona scoring an average of 3.5 goals per game in the UCL and La Liga this season. City average 2.7 goal per game across the two competitions.
Barca and City’s weakness lies in defence. The hosts have conceded in 5 out of 8 league matches this season, 10 in total. The visitors have just 1 clean sheet in 8 league games this term and have conceded in each oft heir last 5 outings in all competitions.
All this points to goals and with Over 3.5 priced at 2.11, it offers some value.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Over 3.5 at 2.11
Prices correct at time of writing.
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