Schalke v Manchester City
Wednesday, 20:00
BT Sport 2
Talk of an unprecedented Quadruple growing louder around Manchester City.
If they are to complete such a feat, Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first leg away to Schalke will be the first of 22 games which must be played between now and June 1.
The struggling Germans, who reached this stage by finishing runners-up to Porto in what looked the weakest of the eight groups, would appear to stand little chance of preventing City reaching the quarter-finals given their miserable season. It is one which sees them sitting a lowly 14th in the Bundesliga having won just six of their 22 games so far, losing 11.
That is a far cry from last season when they finished runners-up and recent form gives little room for encouragement either, with just a single win in their last five, that coming in the German Cup.
For this game, midfielder Omar Mascarell is suspended, while a number of injury issues are a concern for boss Domenico Tedesco, including former Spurs man Benjamin Stambouli. Up front Swiss international Breel Embolo is a long-term absentee.
A lack of goals has arguably been Schalke's biggest issue with just 25 scored in those 22 league games (13 in 11 at home).
On home turf in Gelsenkirchen, they've struggled against their nation's best teams, losing to the four top-five sides they've played. Notably though, they have avoided hammerings with their biggest margin of defeat at the Veltins Arena being two goals.

City on song

City certainly have the potential to worsen that record, particularly when you consider they've scored 49 times and conceded only six during a run which has seen them win 12 of their last 13 games.
They were utterly dominant away to Shakhtar Donetsk earlier in the season, winning 3-0, while at this stage of last season's competition they went to Basel and smashed the Swiss 4-0.
Of course, the layers know all this. City are just 1.30 to win the game. Given the situation of the two teams, it's hard to make any sort of case for a home victory at 12.50.
Maybe a solid defensive effort could earn them a draw at 6.40 - City will know that with the home leg to come, such a result would be far from disastrous.

Goal glut far form certain

Prices about a comfortable City victory are far from mouthwatering either, especially given the Carabao Cup final awaits on Sunday. If City are two up at the break, will they really be busting a gut to add to their tally?
That's the reason why I'm not enthusiastic about the 1.54 on offer about there being over 2.5 goals (under is 2.70).
City could clearly click into goal mode once more - I'm far from ruling it out - but given the circumstances I'd prefer to look for some longer-odds plays in other markets, bets which will still stand, indeed be improved, if City do go goal crazy again.

Sergio: First and foremost

First up I'll take the red-hot Sergio Aguero to open the scoring at 11/4.
The Argentine has landed this bet on four of his last seven starts, while in total he's scored nine goals in his last six appearances.
Aguero scored at both Hoffenheim and Lyon in the group stages and his form suggests he's very much capable of adding to his tally here.
City don't have to score multiple goals for this bet to land; just get the ball to their main striker in a good position fairly early on and he'll likely do the rest.
I'm also going to take a small punt on Aymeric Laporte to score at any time.
The Frenchman has proved himself a real threat from set-pieces this season and has netted four times (all headers) in his 15 away games. Two of those goals came in this competition.
Schalke have had some issues defending set-plays this term with seven of 32 conceded this way in the league. They are also the team with the worst discipline in the Bundesliga, and are in the top five for fouls made, so it's not hard to see City winning some free kicks in dangerous areas, allowing their central defender to get forward.
The 15/2 offered about Laporte scoring again looks worth a poke.

Same Game Multi

Aguero to score first makes the cut for my Same Game Multi with a City winning margin of two goals added to it - this looks about right given the gulf in class and the fact that the visitors may well have other things on their mind come the second half.
That double has odds of 13.13.
One way of adding to it, once the card markets become available, is to add in Weston McKennie to be carded.
The 20-year-old American midfielder could be in for a busy night and he's been booked in five of 17 Bundesliga games (including three of the last six), plus one of two Champions League starts.

Opta fact

Schalke scored six goals in this season's group stages, the lowest tally amongst the 16 clubs left in the competition, with five of those six goals coming after half time. However, only Borussia Dortmund (5) kept more clean sheets than Schalke (4).
1pt Sergio Aguero first goalscorer @ 11/4
0.5pt Aymeric Laporte to score at any time @ 15/2

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