Manuel Pellegrini will not his enjoy his return to Spain, says Tobias Gourlay…
Barcelona v Manchester City
Live on Sky Sports 5
Barcelona 1.434/9, Man City 8.07/1; The Draw 5.59/2
Like last season, Manchester City travel to Catalonia with a deficit to overturn. Like last season, they are unlikely to succeed.
City, who lose Gael Clichy from the first leg but gain the option of Yaya Toure, are an unpromising W5-D1-L7 on the road in the Champions League.
On the other side, Sergio Busquets’ absence raises a glimmer of hope, but Barca will otherwise be at full strength. Likely starters for this match such as Alba, Alves, Iniesta and Mascherano got varying amounts of rest at the weekend and should be raring to go on Wednesday night.
The Spanish league leaders have won 6/7 knockout ties with English sides and are justly favoured at 1.081/12 to go through to an eighth consecutive quarter-final
Since Pep Guardiola wrought big changes in 2008 the Catalans have lost only 1/13 second legs – to rampant 2013 champions Bayern Munich.
Recent form is also in the home side’s favour. While City have lost their two Premier League away games since the first leg, Luis Enrique’s men went to Eibar and won for the 16th time in 17 games.
The tactics of ex-Real Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini will be scrutinised more than most. This article puts some statistical meat on the bones of Gary Neville’s original analysis but, whether Nasri, Silva and Toure are all included from the start or not, you need to be on Barca’s side for this one.
Over / Under Goals
Since the end of the 2010/11 group stages Barcelona have conceded in 18/24 Champions League games at the Camp Nou, including 8/9 second legs. Seven of those nine went Over 2.5 Goals which is priced in at 1.434/9 while 5/9 climbed Over 3.5 Goals.
In all competitions, Barca have conceded in 11/15 at the Camp Nou recently.
City have scored in 10/13 Champions League away games, only failing on three trips to Germany. Nine of the 13 delivered Over 2.5 Goals.
In all competitions the weekend’s defeat at Burnley was only the second time they’d been shut out in 18 away games this season.
At some point the visitors will have to push for an away goal. The numbers suggest that at some point they will get one and that Both Teams to Score will land.
Lionel Messi will lead the goalscorer markets, and rightly so. The little man’s been on target in 11 of his last 12 appearances at the Camp Nou. If you can get a price close to evens, you have a bet on your hands.
At a longer price, Luis Suarez is our other one to watch.
A few months ago it seemed his shooting boots had been lost in transit from Anfield. There was no doubting his contribution to Barca’s buildup play but there were lots of questions about how prolific a scorer he might become for his new club.
We now have an answer. The Uruguayan has scored eight times in his last nine outings, hitting the back of the net at least once in 6/9. A fortnight ago he beat Joe Hart twice and, with the extra incentive of upsetting the English media he dislikes so much, he rates a bet at anything beyond 2.35/4.
Among the boys in light blue, Sergio Aguero is of course the man most likely to. The Argentinean has struck 11 times in his last 10 European games.
Given Barca’s poor defensive record in this competition, he too could be a worthy addition to your portfolio at something approaching 4.03/1.
Back ‘Yes’ in Both Teams to Score? @ 1.75/7
Back Luis Suarez To Score @ 2.35/4