Oct 17, 2016
Oct 17, 2016

UCL game of the week: Barcelona vs. Manchester City

UCL game of the week: Barcelona vs. Manchester City
As soon as the Champions League draw was made, Barcelona vs. Manchester City was being billed as the highlight fixture of the group stages. Two sides renowned for their attacking capabilities are already battling it out for first place in Group C. Will Guardiola’s new side defeat the team that built his reputation? Read on to find out.

Aside from the tactical exchanges and quality of football expected from a game of such magnitude, Pep Guardiola’s return to the Camp Nou adds another dimension to this match.

With both teams already virtually assured of qualification, their focus will now be on winning the group and gaining a crucial advantage in the knockout phase. The group winners will play the runners up from another group and, theoretically, have a better chance of going further in the tournament.

In terms of a head-to-head record, Barcelona – 3.910* to win the competition outright – has the edge over Man City – 9.510* to win the Champions League. The two sides have faced each other on four occasions (two separate two-legged ties) and the Catalans have come out on top every time. Guardiola will be hoping he can guide Man City to their first win over Barcelona and avenge their two previous round of sixteen defeats, but it won’t be an easy task.

Key players

Injuries have been a major worry for both sides as the date for this game approaches. Lionel Messi and Kevin De Bruyne both played some part at the weekend and look like they have sufficiently recovered from their respective groin and hamstring injuries.

However, Jordi Alba and Vincent Kompany are two players whose fitness still hangs in the balance. Alba will be key to limiting the pacey Raheem Sterling, while the positional awareness of Kompany will be invaluable in helping City shut out Messi, Suarez and Neymar.

The importance of defence

Many will see this as a showdown of attacking forces, but it will most likely be the team that performs best defensively that will win. City have conceded in nine of their 13 games this season. Similarly, Barcelona have conceded in six of their 10 games in all competitions.

Barcelona’s attacking trio have been almost unstoppable for the last two years. Under Guardiola, De Bruyne, Sterling and Aguero look like they have the potential to match the goal scoring exploits of MSN (Messi, Suarez and Neymar).

This game might be a case of both sides simply trying to outscore each other, but a solid defensive performance from either team could be the telling factor.

Where is the value?

If Aguero can add to his tally of 11 goals in ten appearances and Claudio Bravo – another man facing his former club – can put a series of dubious performances behind him, City have a chance of bringing something back from the Camp Nou. City are 6.330* to win, with the draw priced at 4.880*.

Despite already recording two losses this season, Barcelona is heavily fancied in Pinnacle’s Champions League betting at 1.520*. Bettors may look to exploit a potentially underestimated City at 6.330*, but the Over 3 and 3.5 goals option at 1.925* is perhaps the safest bet.

Get the best odds on Champions League betting at Pinnacle, the ultimate bookmaker with the lowest margins and highest limits.

*Odds subject to change

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