THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE returns on Tuesday night. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from Manchester City's mouthwatering match-up with Atalanta.
Manchester City v Atalanta | Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
This is a match you don’t want to miss…
Manchester City are well known for their attractive, attacking and ambitious playing style but to the football hipsters among us the same can be said for Atalanta.
The boys from Bergamo have been a breath of fresh air with their brave approach and unique formation under the tutelage of experienced boss Gian Piero Gasperini. There’s few teams as gung-ho as La Dea on the continent and it always makes their matches an entertaining watch with goalmouth action at both ends in plentiful supply.
The Nerazzuri come to Manchester off the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw with Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. It may open a few eyes with six goals being scored but it’s part and parcel of what this side regularly provide. They still managed to bag thrice away at a European regular in the Biancocelesti despite top scorer Duvan Zapata being ruled out.
The fleet-a-foot Luis Muriel admirably took the number nine baton and impressed, scoring a brace in that game on Saturday.
Gasperini will be furious that his side let a 3-0 half time advantage slip and it showed up their prime weakness, their defence. For all their attacking excellence, Atalanta’s porous backline makes it’s no surprise to see City chalked up as short as 1/5 to win this game on Tuesday night.
Pep Guardiola saw his side create an Expected Goals (xG) figure of 3.73 when they hosted Dinamo Zagreb on matchday two and with the visitors propensity to give up chances we should see goals and plenty of them.
Kevin De Bruyne is back fit and that’s a huge boost for Pep, he creates so much for them and his delivery is second to none; City’s xG data shoots up when the Belgian is the side and it’s no surprise. Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez were rested for this game at the weekend and will be eager to impress, there’s so much strength in depth for the Blue Moon in attacking areas at least.
There’s no doubt that the absence of centre half Aymeric Laporte has been to the detriment of the team. City failed to replace Vincent Kompany in the summer and they’re now playing catch up for the Premier League title after not being able to get a solid partnership at the back. Surprisingly, City are in the bottom three for Big Chances conceded and it’s down to sloppy passing in their own half or an over commitment of bodies in the top half of the pitch.
Wolves picked them off on the break in their last game at the Etihad and Atalanta will look to emulate that with a swift counter-attacking game plan.
The betting angles
Goals have been rife in this group but if you take xG there should’ve been even more. If you combine the total xG from all four games played thus far we get a figure of 3.90. Woof!
Atalanta were unfortunate to lose on MD2 as they hit the woodwork and missed a penalty against Shakhtar Donetsk, their ultra-attacking approach saw them get picked off on the break and a last-minute Mator Solomon goal saw them eventually lose 2-1, a crushing blow to qualification hopes.
The Bergamo outfit will not be afraid of going forward here though, it’s just how they roll. With that in mind I’ll happily take the 10/11 on Both Teams To Score and Over 2 Goals when you combine them on Bet365’s BetBuilder.
I’m happy to dip into the Shots market too as I think there’s value in the away side having a few efforts. I tend to err away from shots on-target if possible but we can back the visitors to have nine or more shots in the game at 4/5 with SkyBet.
I’ve talked about City giving up good opportunities, it's not ideal to have Rodri and Fernandinho as centre halves and even if Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones come in they’re far from watertight. La Dea average a mammoth 21 shots per-game in Serie A, admittedly that drops down slightly when considering their Champions League games but they’ve still averaged 13 shots in those two matches.
It’s no surprise that the Italians are rated second on the xG model in their native league, even though their xG against is at 1.50, their xG for is a strong 2.30. City are conceding seven shots per game on average but Atalanta are comfortably better than half of the Premier League teams and their own shot data is seriously impressive.
Another price that looks too big is Atalanta attacker Alejandro Gomez to have 1+ shot on target which is 1/1 with SkyBet. The experienced Argentine has flourished in his elder years and thrives in a free role behind the striker. He is only second behind Zapata for shot volume for the Nerazzuri with 3.80 shots per-game on average in Serie A with 1.80 landing on-target.
He’s posting similar figures in Europe this season too with three-quarters of his shots hitting the target. The same bet is as short as 4/6 elsewhere so get the even-money whilst you can!