Our European scribe previews what should be an epic Wednesday night encounter between Monaco and Manchester City.
With all the rigmarole surrounding that epic Barcelona comeback, it’s easy to forget how astonishing this first leg was. Monaco dominated the first half in Manchester before Sergio Aguero inspired a second-half rally that sees the Citizens hold the advantage this week. Having said that, the Ligue 1 leaders will still feel that the brittle City defensive line-up will offer them the opportunity to overcome the odds this week. Furthermore, that Barcelona victory is the type of result that could galvanise any side looking for inspiration.
Monaco v Manchester City | Wednesday 15 March | Stade Louis II | 21:45
To Win (90 Mins)
Monaco 31/20 | Draw 26/10 | Manchester City 29/20
Leonardo Jardim’s side tuned up for this match with a 2-1 victory over Bordeaux, consolidating their position atop the standings in France. But at what cost? Reports are that hugely influential forward Radamel Falcao is set to miss out with a hip injury acquired in the closing stages of the Bordeaux match. This is a major setback for a side intent on overturning a deficit.
Boschilia and Carrillo remain sidelined due to injury, while Kamil Glik will serve a one match suspension this week. This will likely mean that defender Jemerson will come into the side. There is going to be a massive onus on Leonardo Silva to be the creative force that propels this side, particularly in the absence of Falcao. Germian provides a real threat while Lemar and Bakayoko have shown a great propensity for goal-scoring this season. Jardim will no doubt bring in Moutinho to try to curtail those City counterattacks.
Gabriel Jesus and Gundogan remain the long-term absentees for City, while Vincent Kompany is being monitored on a day to day basis.
City disposed of Middlesbrough in a highly professional manner that seemed to indicate that they had one eye on this encounter. I expect them to go ahead with their 4-1-4-1 formation, with Sane and Sterling wreaking havoc down the flanks. Silva and De Bruyne will play in that little gap behind Aguero, lending a wealth of creativity to the City ranks.
One area where they are likely to be tested is in the heart of midfield, with the likes of Moutinho and Bakayoko looking to insure midfield supremacy for the French outfit.
I’m almost certain Guardiola will play Fernaninho in the holding role, and if he does become overwhelmed he may tinker with the formation and bring in Toure to solidify the midfield area. I think that City may actually sacrifice a fair amount of midfield possession as they seek to utilise the width of the pitch. The match is perfectly set up for City’s counterattacking threat, with Monaco under pressure to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Verdict: Match Bet & Both Teams to Score - Man City + Yes 7/4
This seems like pretty decent value in what is sure to be an open and high scoring encounter. Monaco have to come out firing in search of at least a 2-0 victory margin. City will sit back and break through the likes of Sterling and Sane. The probable absence of Falcao leads me to believe that Monaco will not be the same force going forward.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets