WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) found a 9/4 winner in the reverse of this fixture two weeks ago. Can he repeat the feat and can Manchester City finally get one over Barcelona with a result much needed for the Citizens?
Manchester City v Barcelona | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport 1
Man City need a result here. With Borussia Moenchengladbach hosting Celtic, a win is expected for the Germans – if that were to happen, a defeat for the Citizens would then see them relinquish second place.
City then travel to Moenchengladbach in game round five and that is by no means a dead cert win. Thankfully for City, Barcelona really aren’t at the races at the moment and they created plenty of chances at the Camp Nou two weeks ago.
Pep Guardiola came in for criticism for not starting Sergio Aguero in that game and I also feel that they would have taken one of those chances with him on the pitch. The argument on the other side of the fence is that the Sky Blues wouldn’t have created those chances in the first place if they had started him.
Whatever the reason, Kun looks to have added a little bit more fire to his performances in recent matches. The little Argentinean was brilliant at the weekend against West Brom, scoring a brace but also forming the first line of defence with more intensity in his high pressing than we are used to seeing from him.
Barcelona have had some strange performances this season. The 1-0 win at the weekend against struggling Granada was another one. The visitors were 75/1 pokes and we would normally have expected the Blaugrana to have put at least four past them.
Sandwiched between that game at the 4-0 win over City was a 3-2 win in Valencia. It took a 94th minute penalty from Lionel Messi to seal that result. This also means they’ve kept just one clean sheet in their last four on their travels.
Barcelona have also only kept nine clean sheets in their last 28 away Champions League matches dating back to 2011. Four of those were against BATE Borisov, Celtic, Spartak Moscow and APOEL Nicosia.
It’s fair to say then that defensively they really aren’t that exceptional but in this game they could be weaker at the back than they have been in a long time.
Jordia Alba and Gerard Pique are both injured but Jeremy Mathieu also has a calf injury which means Barca will have to go with a back four of; Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Digne.
That’s far from ideal but it doesn’t stop there. Andres Iniesta is injured too which means we’ll probably see Rafinha in midfield. Aside from the attack this Barcelona team is not what it was when Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol were around.
Manchester City may have to play a strange defence too with the absence of Bacary Sagna and doubts over Pablo Zabaleta’s fitness leaving them weak at right-back.
Against West Brom they played a three-man defence of John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandr Kolarov. I would not be surprised if we see that again as it allows them to pack the midfield.
That would obviously leave them vulnerable to Barca’s terrifying front three but with Fernando and Fernandinho doing the dirty work to cover them I don’t think it will be too disastrous. At least Claudio Bravo can’t get himself sent off again.
I think the bookies have the prices right. 6/4 on Barcelona to win a football match could be perceived as a big price but City rarely lose at home; they’ve lost just five times in 22 Champions League ties at the Etihad, although two of those defeats were to Barcelona.
There are a lot of question marks around Barca for me at the moment. I think one of the Madrid clubs will pip them to the title this season and with their defensive issues I’m looking at goals rather than the Match Odds.
All three of City’s group games have seen four or more goals so far and I’ll back that trend to continue at 13/10 with BetVictor. It’s got to have a good chance with Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all expected to be on the pitch at the same time.
Manchester City v Barcelona – Over 3.5 goals (13/10 BetVictor)