Barca v Man City: Keeping 11 men on the field Pep’s first task
Much has been made of the return of Pep Guardiola to Barcelona, even on these pages. However, rather than a reunion of old friends, the Spaniard has far more on his plate when he visits the Camp Nou with Manchester City.
At the outset, the Citizens need to arrest form of three games without a win in all competitions against opponents who are unbeaten in 17 Champions League home games.
Each of the last 12 Catalan outings in the competition have gone the way of the hosts, including a 7-0 beating of Celtic last time out.
Perhaps bigger than the task of bettering his former club though, is the challenge of ensuring none of his players get sent off.
In three of the previous four tussles between these foes, the Citizens have had a man dismissed.
It all started at home in the 2013/14 campaign’s round of 16, when Martin Demichelis conceded a 53rd-minute penalty and was given his marching orders as punishment.
The virus for seeing red spread further across the back line in the very next leg of that tie, when right-back Pablo Zabaleta was shown two yellow cards, eventually departing with 17 minutes remaining.
Gael Clichy was next, taking an early bath one minute later than his Argentine had done after taking a second booking at the Etihad the following season.
Unsurprisingly given that form, we’ve taken the opportunity to provide a special price on any player being sent off in the latest battle of these elite clubs at 3/1.
In the same market, it’s 33/1 that Guardiola spoils his return to his former home by being ordered to the stands.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing