2.5pts Manchester City -1.5 Asian Handicap at 20/23 (bet365)
1pt Raheem Sterling to score anytime at 13/10 (Sky Bet)
It has been a very difficult few weeks for Borussia Mönchengladbach, as not only are they in terrible form domestically, but it has been announced that they are set to lose manager Marco Rose to Dortmund at the end of the season.
They have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions, and that came in the DFB-Pokal against Stuttgart, but in the Bundesliga they have found life tough against some average opponents.
Die Fohlen are nine points off the Champions League places in Germany, so winning this seasons competition looks like their only way back into Europe’s elite contest, but unfortunately for BMG, they have drawn a red-hot Manchester City.
While Gladbach do deserve some credit for qualifying out of a group including Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan, it is worth noting that the only wins they picked up were against the Ukrainians.
In matches against teams I would say are among the best on the continent (RMA and INT), they collected just two points and posted woeful underlying numbers, continually looking vulnerable defensively.
Across those four matches, they created just 1.26 expected goals for (xGF) per game while conceding 2.73 expected goals against (xGA) per game. That doesn’t bode well ahead of this tie.
Manchester City won their 18th successive game in all competitions at the Emirates this past weekend, again creating plenty while limiting their opponents to virtually nothing (xG: ARS 0.40 – 2.07 MCI).
Their defence has been the key for their consistent run, as in the Premier League they have allowed just 0.53 xGA per game in their 13 straight wins, but their attacking process is trending in a hugely positive direction.
After a sluggish start to the campaign from an attacking point of view, Pep Guardiola’s side have clicked over the past few months, with their average of 2.21 xGF per game over their last 13 showing just that.
Putting City’s recent dominance into words is difficult, as they have been just that much better than every team they have faced, winning at a canter, and I expect no different when they venture to the continent.
This game is not being played in Germany, so any home field advantage Gladbach would have had in this first leg is no longer in play.
Manchester City are in sensational form and are posting some outrageous underlying numbers, while in contrast, Gladbach are bang out of form and struggling.
City to win to nil did interest me, but despite their defensive improvements, Gladbach’s counter-attack is excellent and deserves respect, so I am instead turning to the Asian Handicap.
Pep’s side can be backed at 20/23 with a -1.5 start on bet365, which means that we get a winner if City are victorious by two goals or more. I think that is highly likely in Budapest, so that is my main play.
At a marginally bigger price, RAHEEM STERLING to SCORE ANYTIME appeals.
The Englishman scored the only goal of the game at the weekend and looks to have recaptured his form as a result of City’s attack improving.
He has scored five in his last seven across all competitions and has averaged 0.41 xG per 95 minutes this term, so is getting himself in good scoring positions regularly. I like his chances of adding to his tally here in a game where City could score a fair few.
Score Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-3 Manchester City (Sky Bet odds 9/1)
Odds correct at 1200 GMT (23/02/21)
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