Our European football scribe previews Tuesday night’s round of 16 game between Man City and Monaco.
Pep Guardiola’s side have a slightly reinvigorated look to them, having potentially crawled back into the Premier League title race a few weeks back. Guardiola was able to rest some of his key players for their disappointing away draw at Huddersfield in the Cup. Leonardo Jardim’s side had to settle for a draw against Bastia on Friday night, a result which was ultimately mitigated by PSG’s slightly incongruous home draw against Toulouse. Having said that, Monaco are still atop a competitive Ligue A table, and the reincarnated presence of Radamel Falcao will pose the Citizens plenty of problems this week.
Manchester City v Monaco | Tuesday 21 February | Etihad Stadium | 21:45
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester City 11/20 | Draw 31/10 | Monaco 9/2
Manchester City will have to deal without Gabriel Jesus for the remainder of the season: a first world problem when you consider that Sergio Aguero is the replacement. One wonders what the motivational levels of the alienated Aguero will be. Willy Cabarello has made the number one spot his own in recent weeks, with that mystical ability to actually save the occasional shot. Sane, De Bruyne, Sterling and Silva were rested at the weekend and will form a formidable threat going forward.
City will likely look to unleash their 4-1-4-1 formation on Monaco this week. That likely means that Yaya Toure will not feature, with Fernandinho tasked with sweeping in front of the back four. While they understandably feel like they have the pure attacking ammunition to dismantle Monaco, there is a threat that the midfield area may become exposed by Monaco’s highly industrious midfield area. City may have scored in every single home game this season, but they have also conceded in 10 of their last 11 home games.
Some of the stats swarming around Monaco this season are crazy. They have scored 76 goals in their 26 Ligue A games this season. What? We all know that there is a disparity in depth with Ligue A, but those numbers are crazy. They have also scored in 18 of their 20 away fixtures this season.
Portuguese manager Jardim has fashioned a fluid, technically astute side capable of playing in possession or on the counter. They will invite City possession this week, desperately searching for that chance to break, fully away that away goals could prove vital in their quest for progression.
Boschillia, Carrilo and Raggi will all be unavailable for selection, though it seems that Djibril Sidibe should be available for potential selection in defense.
Monaco should feel emboldened by the exploits of PSG last week. I think that Joao Moutinho and Bakayoko could dominate the middle of the park, particularly if Guardiola gives in to his impulses and plays his favored 4-1-4-1 formation. Bernardo Silva has scored 7 goals in 14 away matches this season and has really been their catalyst. Falcao offers that focal point, but its Silva’s ingenuity and turn of pace that has captivated most.
Verdict: Totals – Over 2.5 Goals at 13/20
City can’t keep a clean sheet at home, while Monaco have been dynamic on the road. I actually have a gut feeling that Monaco could cause an upset here, but perhaps the safer option is to go for a high-scoring result, with Bernardo Silva a potential backer for the anytime goalscorer markets.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets