Man City v Barcelona – Etihad Stadium at 19:45 live on ITV 1
Arguably the tie of this week’s Champions League fixtures comes from the Etihad Stadium as Man City take on Barcelona in the first leg of the last 16. City were knocked out of the competition at this stage last year by Barcelona as they lost both legs, knocked out 4-1 on aggregate.
Man City have yet to make it to the quarter finals of the competition but have made it to the knock out stages for the past 2 seasons, this year didn’t look too good though as they struggled in Group E.
With only 2 points from their first 4 games and being 2-1 down to Bayern Munich in the 5th, they scored 2 late goals to beat Munich 3-2 which set up a showdown with Roma, in Rome, which City won 2-0. The Citizens qualified on 8 points, the lowest total, with Schalke, of the last 16.
Barcelona had no such trouble, qualifying with 15 points, W5 L1, scoring an average of 3 goals per game conceding just 5 times.
I have no doubt Barcelona will qualify over the 2 legs but it will be tighter than the prices currently suggest tomorrow night I feel. Man City have been priced up at 3.6 which I make too big and so do the punters. Money is coming for the English side and they are sure to go off a fair bit shorter.
Looking at the Asian Handicap market, due to their inflated price, early backers will be very tempted to take City +0.5 @ 1.83 or the City +0.25 @ 2.12. You will need to get in early for these prices as they will not last much longer.
I’m not denying that this is some nice value on Man City, who looked back to their best against Newcastle on Saturday, but, despite this value, I think Barca will come out on top. The current price of Barca -0.25 @ 1.87 is more than worth a bet, but I’m willing to wait a little longer for a better price which I’m sure will come.
Goals are expected with the top price on Over 2.5 goals of 1.75 but this doesn’t look like value to me. Barca like teams to play attacking football against them and catch them on the counter and many will expect City, at home, to set up an attacking side.
With Toure out suspended, Pellegrini should opt for another defensive midfielder and attempt to contain the Spanish giants. Keeping a clean sheet at home is extremely valuable in the UCL and may be something City have learnt since last season. With this in mind, I think the price on Under 2.75 on the Asian Line of 1.95 is worth a punt.
Barcelona’s away form over the past few of seasons in the Champions League hasn’t been the best having been beaten by PSG, Ajax, AC Milan and Celtic but I think they will just edge it tomorrow night.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Barcelona -0.25 @ 1.87
Prices correct at time of writing.
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