Man City v Burton Wednesday, 19:45 Live on Sky Sports Main Event
City back on track
After the Christmas wobble and those back-to-back defeats against Crystal Palace and Leicester, Man City are purring again.
First, the 3-1 win at Southampton, then that crunch 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the big Premier League title showdown at the Etihad and, on Saturday, a 7-0 walloping of Rotherham.
Rotherham are a Championship side. Burton are a League One side. No wonder, therefore, that despite this being a semi-final, Man City are overwhelming 1/20 favourites to establish a first-leg lead.
City have won this tournament in three of the last five seasons so they do give it some attention, especially at this stage.
Quite simply, this looks a question of how many.
Burton shock semi-finalists
Man City, Spurs, Chelsea, Burton. Spot the odd one out in the four teams contesting the semi-finals.
It's been a superb effort from Nigel Clough to guide his team to the last four although this is the third time young Cloughy has managed it so he likes this tournament.
To get there, they've beaten Shrewsbury, Aston Villa, Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough so have seen off some decent enough opposition.
City are on a different planet to that lot though and Burton's away form in League One is P13, W3, D3, L7. They may be ninth but only four teams in the division have lost more on the road.
To put it mildly, this could be a difficult night.
Handicaps the way to go
With Man City just 1.05 to establish a lead, that's of little appeal to most unless you want to throw them into an acca.
Burton are a massive 85.00 to cause a shock while The Draw is 24.00.
The visitors could point out that Championship side Bristol City forced City to come from 1-0 down and nick a last-gasp 2-1 victory in last year's semi-final first-leg at the Etihad.
But Burton, unfortunately for them, just seem to be catching City at the wrong time.
The Liverpool win was a massive boost for their confidence and the 7-0 Rotherham romp showed the strut was back.
The handicaps are the obvious way in and you have to go to City (-3) before finding an odd-against price.
The bet I like is Man City (-1) on the First Half Handicap.
City have scored more goals (30) in the first 45 minutes than in the second (26) this season and had already found the net three times by half-time in the recent games against Southampton and Rotherham.
Pep Guardiola will want this done early so he can make substitutions in the second half.
It seems a very reasonable ask that City are, say, 2-0 up at the break against a Burton outfit which has leaked 21 goals away from home (more than anyone else in the top 13 in League One).
De Bruyne can strike
The scorer options are tricky without knowing the teams but I think there's every chance Kevin De Bruyne will get the nod in the City starting XI. He needs games to get back to full match sharpness and this is another obvious opportunity to ease him back in.
His 67 minutes against Rotherham could be repeated here and that should be enough time to get a goal. Alternatively, De Bruyne could easily come on for the last half hour and lash one in against tired opponents. He netted in the last round against Leicester and then in the 3-2 home loss to Crystal Palace so has two goals in his last four matches.
With a home victory almost inevitable, the Same Game Multi offering of De Bruyne to score in a Man City win at 2.67 (just under 17/10) looks very playable.
2pts Man City (-1) First Half Handicap at Evens (Sportsbook)
1pt Same Game Multi Kevin De Bruyne to Score and Man City win at 2.67 (Sportsbook)