Manchester City play host to Barcelona in the first leg of their round of 16 Champions League match this Tuesday. In my preview for this match-up I have included my prediction along with betting odds.
Both teams come into this game off the back of rather convincing wins. Interestingly enough they both have identical records in their last six matches in all competitions.
The Citizens advanced to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with their 2-0 home win over Chelsea on Saturday. It was exactly the response, and boost to confidence, they needed going into their Champions League game this midweek. After previously losing to Chelsea at home in the Premier League, they learned from their mistakes and made the necessary changes to advance.
In the Champions League this season Manchester City has had one loss so far, the 3-1 home defeat to Bayern Munich. This was also the only match in which they scored fewer than two goals in a match. Despite that they have averaged 3 goals per game with a total of 18 goals scored.
13 of their 18 goals have come from open play with 3 penalties and 2 from counter attacks. They also have a fantastic conversion rate of 19%.
The injury problems for Manchester City could be a factor in this match, especially with Fernandinho still missing. Sergio Aguero was their leading scorer in the group stages with 6 goals and he is still set to be out on Tuesday. However, Alvaro Negredo scored 5 of their goals and Samir Nasri, who provided 4 assists) came back over the weekend to give them an offensive boost.
In typical Barcelona style the Catalans came through the group stages as winners despite having injury concerns with Lionel Messi, who also was their leading scorer with 6 goals. Their Brazilian wonderkid, Neymar, also contributed with 2 goals and 2 assists. Their 6-0 win over the weekend was quite easy and gives them a boost going in to Tuesday.
Barcelona also came through the group stages by scoring in every match, as well as keeping two clean sheets. They scored a total of 16 goals, with an average of 3 per game. In addition they had a 90% pass completion rate while making a total of 766 passes.
My pick is for a first leg draw. Both teams are in good form at the right time and it should not be easy for either team. With the number of goals that these teams are capable of scoring it could be a rather open match. At the same time, the away goals rule will mean that Manchester City could sit a bit deeper and try to keep Barcelona from scoring.
This is a match that could swing in either direction, however, Barcelona could have the advantage considering that fatigue could easily become a factor for Manchester City. Barcelona will almost certainly hold the ball for long periods of time, they have an average of 69% possession in the UCL. This could add to the tiredness and force mistakes from City.
Betting Odds (Bovada):
Man City win: 9/5; Draw: 14/5; Barcelona win: 7/5
Recent Form: City (W, W, W, L, D, W) Barca (W, L, W, W, D, W)
Prediction: Manchester City 1 – 1 Barcelona
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