Bet on goals when Manchester City host Barcelona at the Etihad on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie (19:45 GMT, live on ITV1).
City come into the match on the back of a relatively comfortable 2-0 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup on Saturday. They have lost just one of their last 23 matches in all competitions and are third in the Premier League table with 54 points from 17 wins, three draws and five defeats.
The Citizens struggled in the Champions League under Roberto Mancini, failing to make it out of the group stage in consecutive seasons, but were impressive in winning five of their six fixtures during the group stage of this year’s competition under new coach Manuel Pellegrini (pictured). They finished second in Group D, level on points with holders Bayern Munich.
As has been the case in the Premier League so far this season, it was in attack that City flourished most. Their total of 18 goals was the second-highest of any team during the group stage and with a variety of attacking options they will hope to enjoy similar success in the knockout stages. They have averaged 2.93 goals per match in all competitions this season.
It would be fair to say that Man City’s defence have not always performed to the same level as the attack, but they were very solid in Saturday’s victory over Chelsea, allowing zero efforts on target. While Pellegrini will recognise that Barcelona are likely to offer a more potent attacking threat, he will have taken at least some encouragement from the performance.
Pellegrini has confirmed that he does not expect Fernandinho (thigh) or top scorer Sergio Aguero (hamstring) to be fully fit for Tuesday’s match, although there is a possibility both could be involved from the substitutes bench. Matija Nastasic (knee) is set to miss out despite recently returning to full training, while James Milner is suspended.
Barcelona come into Tuesday’s match on the back of a 6-0 thumping of Rayo Vallecano on Saturday. They have lost just one of their last 17 matches in all competitions and are joint leaders in La Liga with 60 points from 19 wins, three draws and two defeats.
The four-time Champions League winners qualified for the knockout stages of this year’s competition by comfortably topping Group H, four points clear of second-placed Milan. A draw away in Italy and defeat away to Ajax suggested they are far from infallible, but home thrashings of Ajax and Celtic made it clear that they are still a very capable side.
Gerardo Martino has made some changes to Barcelona’s style of play since taking over last summer, instigating a more vertical approach that seeks to use possession primarily as a means for attack rather than control. These alterations have earned him a few detractors, but the former Paraguay and Newell’s Old Boys coach has generally performed well.
In the league, Barca have accumulated points at a slightly lesser rate than last season, but are scoring more and conceding less goals per match. With Lionel Messi looking close to his sharp best after struggling with injuries earlier in the campaign and Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas, Neymar and Pedro all scoring at a fine clip, they look well placed to go on a good run.
Carlos Puyol (back) returned from injury to play for 68 minutes in Saturday’s win over Rayo while Neymar (ankle) came off the bench to score the sixth goal after a month on the sidelines. Xavi (knock) was rested at the weekend, but will be part of the squad for Tuesday’s match. Jonathan Dos Santos (cruciate ligament) is Barcelona’s only confirmed absentee.
Man City vs Barcelona Betting Tips Verdict
These two sides have never met before in official competition. City drew at home and lost away to Real Madrid in the group stage of last year’s Champions League, while Barcelona have won two, lost two and drawn one of their last five Champions League matches against English opposition. They defeated City’s local rivals Manchester United in the 2011 final.
Man City are highly likely to start Tuesday’s match without two key players whose absences will be keenly felt. Aguero is a constant menace up front, while Fernandinho’s energy and determination could have helped them grab a foothold in midfield. They do, however, remain a very good side and have the necessary attacking variety to trouble the away defence.
This current Barcelona side may not be be quite as formidable as the all-conquering incarnation of Josep Guardiola’s tenure, but they still have numerous high-quality international players in their ranks. Martino would likely be happy with a score draw that would give his side the away goal advantage for the second leg and we believe that to be the most probable outcome.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 13/5 with BetVictor.
- Matches involving City this season have averaged 3.95 goals, while those involving Barcelona have averaged 3.58 goals. The strength of both sides lies in the final third and we expect to see plenty of goals. Back over 2.5 goals @ best odds of 4/6 with BetVictor.