Timisoara vs Man City – Mancini may unleash Balotelli for debut
Mario Balotelli could lead the line for Europa League favourites in Romania
A more attacking mentality may be employed by Roberto Mancini as he prepares for his first European encounter in charge of Manchester City against FC Timisoara in the Europa League.
Mancini takes his expensively-assembled squad to Romania after an inspired goalkeeping performance from Joe Hart ensured they drew their first Premier League game of the season 0-0 away at fellow Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.
But with City being the favourites to win the Europa League at 6/1, Mancini may decide to show a statement of intent and opt for a more attacking line-up than the three holding midfielders he chose at Tottenham.
This could mean a debut for new signing Mario Balotelli as City still search for their second victory of the current campaign having won just once throughout the whole of pre-season.
The one definite change from the Spurs draw is at left-back after new recruit Alexsandar Kolarov had to be replaced because of an ankle injury.
Mancini’s men are 4/7 to win away in Russia, but this could prove trickier than expected as Timisoara are still to taste defeat in any competition this season.
They proved their capabilities during the last campaign when dumping Shakhtar Donetsk out of the Champions League during the qualification rounds, before being denied a spot in the group stages by Stuttgart.
Mircea Axente is likely to pose the Eastlands defence the most trouble and scored in both legs as Timisoara qualified for this round with a 5-4 aggregate victory over Finnish team MYPA.
He is 10/1 to open the scoring in Romania with the home team 9/2 to head into the second leg with an aggregate lead.
Balotelli is 5/1 to score the opener against Timisoara. See the whole first goalscorer market.