MAN CITY head to Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday evening on Matchday 56 of the Champions League. We asked Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) to analyses the odds and share his best bets.
Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City | Wednesday 11th December 2019, 17:55 | BT Sport
Although it’s hard to believe considering the money the club have spent, Manchester City travel to Zagreb for their final Champions League game in a the midst of a mini crisis.
Pep Guardiola’s comments following the Manchester derby defeat that City may be ‘unable to compete’ with other top clubs probably bemused many and wouldn’t have attracted too much in the way of sympathy. Sitting 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, with whom they enjoyed the most spectacular title race last campaign, can only be considered as a failure of a season to date.
Although, if Guardiola can lead his men to Champions League glory, a trophy which has slipped the Citizens’ grasp in recent years, then the season will be looked at in an entirely new perspective.
The decision not to replace captain and dressing room leader Vincent Kompany during the summer looked a poor one very early on, as injury to Aymeric Laporte and regular knocks to John Stones has shifted Fernandinho back in to an unnatural position.
The Brazilian however is suspended for this game and with Stones limping off against city rivals United, youngster Eric Garcia could start in the Croatian capital which may encourage both teams to score backers even if the price is as short as 4/9. Although City have won their last 6 games directly following defeat, Dinamo can certainly cause them problems.
Having already won the group, the change at centre back is not likely to the only one Pep makes with a trip to Arsenal awaiting this weekend. The Spaniard has already confirmed that Phil Foden will start the match and I’ve been taking a closer look at the 19 year-old’s stats.
Having scored within two minutes of coming off the bench in the reverse game between these two sides, Foden was rewarded with a start on Matchday 3 against Atalanta. The Stockport born man was sent off though and again found game time limited since that match.
Despite playing a cumulative total of only 87 minutes in his six Premier League and Champions League appearances since that red, he has managed four shots on goal in that time so the 19/10 on him to register three or more shots with Coral in this match looks a good way to go.
Foden will want to stake his claim in a City side lacking consistency and when factoring in the opposition, who have allowed 16.6 shots on their goal per Champions League plus his own personal shot stats in domestic games – 4.3 per 90 minutes – the price I mentioned looks even more appealing.
Dinamo Zagreb are well on their way to their 14th Croatian League title in 15 years, sitting nine points clear of rivals Hadjuk Split and also head into this match with a chance of progressing to the knockout stages for the first time in their history. Two star men in this Zagreb team are former Barcelona academy player Dani Olmo and forward Mislav Orsic, both of whom have looked comfortably at home at this standard of football.
Dinamo know they need to win to stand any chance of getting through in 2nd place in Group C and will be nervously keeping one eye on the result from the other game between Shakhtar and Atalanta should they find themselves in a good position.
On that basis, the 5/4 with Bet365 on Man City to win over 15.5 free-kicks is my second selection. This game will mean so much to Dinamo to try and get something from and at very least qualify for the next stages of the Europa League so the number of tactical fouls to stop City playing could rack up.
On the other hand, if Dinamo are looking like heading out, frustration could boil over for a side that has averaged 2.8 cards and 16.4 fouls per game in the group stages.
A welcome respite for City but given their current woes, those 2 prop bets appeal more than the outrights on a much changed away line-up.