Man City handed Champions League incentive with Barca blows

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Pep Guardiola is having to face some familiar faces in his first Manchester City season.

He’s already bettered one of them by beating Jose Mourinho in the Manchester derby, but a Champions League group containing Barcelona is an entirely different beast.

The Spaniard enjoyed near-total domination as manager of the Catalan giants between 2008 and 2012, and has enhanced his reputation as a coach since leaving.

His 100 per cent record since taking over at the Etihad, for example, is the best ever in his career, making the upcoming clashes between his old and new sides a mouth-watering prospect.

The Spanish club are our 3/10 favourites to win Group C, but suffered two huge injury blows in their last league game against Atletico Madrid that could make the 23/10 about Guardiola’s City the play to make.

Both Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi were casualties in that 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou, with the latter reportedly set to miss three weeks of action with the groin strain he picked up.

Although that timeframe of recovery means he’s unlikely to be absent the first clash with Man City, which will take place on October 19, any setback in his rehabilitation would put him in danger of missing out.

There has been no indication of how long pivotal midfielder Sergio Busquets will be absent but if both he and Messi are unavailable for the trip to face Borussia Monchengladbach, it could open a window of opportunity to Guardiola’s troops.

City face Celtic in that same gameweek and are 2/7 for victory. Should Barca slip up in Germany, then the Premier League leaders’ price to win Group C will slide somewhere close to that.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.