Cristiano Ronaldo is about to embark on his first return to Manchester since swapping England’s north-west for galactico status at Real Madrid.
The Portuguese forward stole the show when Man City ventured to the Bernabeu on Champions League match day one by firing in a last-gasp winner past Joe Hart to give Real the 3-2 victory and he’s priced at 3/1 to open the scoring at the Etihad.
During his six-year tenure at Old Trafford, Ronaldo made 11 appearances against Man City but could only find the back of the net on four occasions. More than one goal in three would be a decent return for most, but this doesn’t stand up against his remarkable scoring record.
Ominously for City, who are eliminated from the competition should they fail to extract all three points out of Los Merengues, Ronny was only on the losing side for two Manchester derbies. It is fair to argue, though, that City have improved immeasurably since Ronaldo fled the Red Devils and the fact that he is now squaring off against them in Europe’s elite competition speaks volumes for this.
Roberto Mancini’s men are more than capable of winning this game as their 19-match unbeaten run at home in Europe will attest and the can be backed at 21/10 to get the only result that will suffice.
There cause will be improved significantly should Ronny see red at the Etihad for the third time in his career. He was given his marching orders in his final Manchester derby and can be backed at 25/1 to make it two reds on the bounce here, while he’s 20/1 to roll back the years and pick up a yellow card for diving.
Mancini has already stated the obvious by sounding him out as Real’s biggest threat to his side and, lining up on the left of their attack, it means City’s dependable Argentine Pablo Zabaleta will be tasked with keeping him quiet.
Naturally, he’s the favourite to be the first man to impede Ronaldo. A price of 13/10 says he’ll be first cited for illegally stopping him, while Vincent Kompany can be backed at 7/4 to atone for his mistake in Madrid that resulted in Ronaldo’s winner by clattering the Portuguese before any other City man.
Punters who one day envisage Ronaldo returning to Manchester to wear City blue can back the fantasy at 7/4.
Ronny has made noises about being unhappy at Real this term and the Citizens are one of probably three clubs on the planet who could actually afford to sign him at present alongside Chelsea and Paris St Germain.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date