Manchester City’s Champions League future hangs by the thinnest of threads and anything but a win over Real Madrid will confirm their exit.
Real are 5/4 to put the final nail in the Citizen’s coffin, while Ladbrokes have priced Roberto Mancini’s men at 37/100 to be eliminated following this game.
The permutations that see City qualify are fairly complicated but, to put it in as simple terms as possible, they have to win both their games and hope for the best.
With Real hosting Ajax in the final group game, even if City manage to usurp the odds and beat Los Merengues, it is incredibly difficult to envisage Frank de Boer’s side getting the win or draw required in the Bernabeu to send the Spanish giants packing.
This makes City’s best shot of pulling off an extremely unlikely escape act is pipping Dortmund on goal difference.
For that to happen they need the German champions to slip up in the Amsterdam Arena so they can head to the Westfalenstadion knowing that a comfortable win would see them through, assuming Real simultaneously get the job done against the Dutch side in game week six.
If Dortmund get as much as a point in Amsterdam, however, as they’re more than capable of doing, another door slams shut for City and then they’re really in need of a miracle going into the final group game.
Given the impossibility of their situation, a defeat to Jose Mourinho’s side could prove a blessing in disguise. Not only would it put this Champions League situation to bed, it would dampen their chances of finishing third in Group D and having to compete in the Europa League post-Christmas.
A club boasting the calibre of player City do, along with their high-end expectations, they have no desire to take the Champions League’s uglier sister home with them and, should they finish bottom of the group, they could focus all of their attention on retaining the Premier League crown, which they currently sit as 11/10 favourites to do.
A second successive English title would no doubt repair the damage caused by another early exit from the continent’s premiere competition, but a failure on both fronts is likely to see Mancini out of a job in the summer.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date