Priced at 16/1 to win the Champions League after being drawn against Barcelona in the knockout phase of the competition, Manchester City face an almighty test to progress – but we think they may just do it.
Fresh from pulling off one of the greatest group stage comebacks of all time, the Citizens will host Barca full of confidence and we’ve picked out five reasons the Sky Blues should be backed to do the job against one of La Liga’s finest.
1. Manchester City’s current form
Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leicester was City’s seventh consecutive victory in all competitions and also their third straight clean sheet, following shut-outs against Everton and Roma.
Having conceded just one goal in their last five while also scoring 11, the Premier League champions are hitting their stride at the perfect time.
2. Barcelona are not what they once were
With Gerardo Martino replaced by club legend Luis Enrique as manager over the summer, Barca fans must have been hoping for a return to the heady style of Pep Guardiola.
However the results have so far failed to materialise with the Catalans dropping twice as many points in the first 15 games under Enrique as they did when Martino was at the helm.
And if you factor in that the second leg of their Champions League tie with City will be played four days before El Clasico, it’s looking far from rosy for Barcelona.
3. The Sky Blues’ Bayern Munich showings
Manuel Pellegrini’s side may have been somewhat fortunate to see off Bayern Munich with a 3-2 victory last month, but the Citizens have shown themselves to be worthy adversaries to one of the continent’s best club sides in recent times.
City were unfortunate to go down 1-0 to Bayern at the Allianz Arena and have beaten the Bundesliga giants in three of their previous six meetings. A Martin Demichelis red card put paid to their chances against Barca last time they met but the Spaniards may not be so lucky this time.
4. Atletico Madrid showed it can be done
Atleti’s 2-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League broke the Catalan’s previous dominance of the European Cup with Barca previously qualifying for the semi-finals of the competition in each of the previous six incarnations.
Now that the run has been ended by a La Liga rival, City will be hoping that the air of invincibility that once presided over the club will go with it and we tend to agree with them.
5. In Sergio Aguero we trust
Currently sidelined through injury, the Argentine should be back and fully-fit by the time this game comes around and will be crucial to City’s chances having proven key to their must-win victory over Bayern Munich earlier in the campaign.
A regular scorer against Barca back in his Atletico Madrid days, the diminutive striker can be relied upon to put in a performance, when required, on the biggest stage.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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