Manchester City v Barcelona – Etihad Stadium at 19:45 live on BT Sport 2
Champions League has been great for my Asian Handicap recommendations this season. So, let’s find some value in this week’s big clash in Manchester as City host Barcelona.
Feeling the blues…
Pep Guardiola and his team have just been through his worst ever run of form as a manager.
Six games without a win, still nothing that serious for 99% of managers out there, but Pep is apparently different.
The fact that this run came when playing, Celtic, Tottenham, Everton, Barcelona, Southampton and Manchester United, seems to have escaped everyone.
Yes a team like City would expect to win a few of those matches. But they only lost three in their winless run of six.
Even then the three were at Tottenham, at Barcelona and when fielding a reserve team at Old Trafford. Needless to say, I believe that things have been blown out of proportion by the media, as usual.
Travelling to the Hawthorns for a tough looking Premier League encounter on Saturday, the real City showed up.
The 4-0 win was the perfect preparation for tomorrow night’s big game, in which the Citizens could really use at least a point.
They are unlikely to catch Barca at the top of Group C, even with a win here, but they need a performance to finally show they could be a contender at this level.
Barcelona mean business…
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona might not quite be playing at peak level just yet, but nothing is won until May.
Their 4-0 win over City at the Camp Nou two weeks ago, shows just how dangerous this team really is.
Barca finished that match with just three defenders on the pitch; Javier Mascherano, Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne.
Yet City, despite creating a few decent chances were still unable to find the back of the net. Perhaps Pep, will not repeat his mistake of benching Sergio Aguero for this return match, after that disappointing performance.
The Catalans have been beaten twice in La Liga this season and it looks like they will again be fielding a reserve defence in this match.
Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Jeremy Mathieu, Aleix Vidal are all still out, plus influential Andres Iniesta remains sidelined.
Prices and data…
Hosts Man City are currently 2.86 underdogs to beat Barcelona, with Pep’s old team available at 2.51 to win.
Obviously, Manchester City are very rarely underdogs to win at home, just six times in the last three years in fact.
These six games all came in the Champions League and their record is not great at, W2 D1 L3. However, at the highest level of competitive football avoiding defeat 50% of the time has some credit to it.
But, Barcelona contributed two of the three defeats that City have suffered in these six games. While, they were only 2-0 and 2-1 defeats, the manner of the 2-0 in particular was comprehensive.
I can guarantee that it should have been more than 2-0 because I was actually there on the night, on business of course!
Barcelona on the road as weak favourites in the Champions League have had their struggles as well.
With a record of W3 D1 L5 in similar encounters over the past three years, although you could include wins at Juventus and Arsenal as well.
Even so, that would still leave them failing to win in 54% of away games when priced up as weak favourites.
Can Manchester City upset the odds by at least avoiding defeat on Tuesday night?
Asian Handicap & Total Goals…
The main line for this match has been set at +/- 0.25, while the total goals line sits at +/-3 goals.
At the prices, City +0.25 at 1.84 and Barca -0.25 at 2.12, I do not think there is a huge amount of value available.
I do think City are capable of taking a point for once against Barca. But, there is a better bet to back with our hard earned cash.
In those 11 Barcelona games mentioned earlier, there was an average of 3.27 goals. Plus, they have just 2 clean sheets in 10 away days in this competition and will be playing with a reserve defence.
City are a similar side, full of goals but not without their flaws at the back. The aforementioned matches against similar opposition produced an average of 2.5 goals per game.
With Pep confirming that Aguero will start tomorrow and a pair of struggling defences. I am happy to take the slice of value on offer on the Asian Total Goals market and expect a push as worst case scenario.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Over 3 Goals at 1.87
Prices correct at the time of writing.
Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker, Asian Handicap specialists.