Manchester City v Borussia Monchengladbach: Imperious City to win again
Manchester City won their first clash with Borussia Monchengladbach in Budapest, and Kevin Hatchard doesn't anticipate any problems second time around.
Acid test will come later for all-conquering City
City have been close to perfection in recent months, with a spellbinding run of 23 wins in 24 matches in all competitions in the books. Barring a compete collapse, the Premier League trophy will return to the Etihad, and Pep Guardiola's star-studded side is still in contention to win the FA Cup and the League Cup.
However, the ultimate aim is to win the Champions League (City are the 3.6 favourites in the Winner market), and regardless of City's current form there is no guarantee that they will become the champions of Europe.
Guardiola has built an impressive pile of missteps and hard-luck stories in the latter stages of the UCL, and you can't get away from the fact that he hasn't taken a team to the final of this competition since Barcelona beat Manchester United in 2011. It is a stain on his brilliant record.
Guardiola is aware of this, and he looked incongruously anxious at times in the first leg against Gladbach, despite his side controlling the game from start to finish in a 2-0 win. City only allowed their opponents two shots in the whole 90 minutes, and only one was on target.
Guardiola has a fully fit squad to choose from, and has multiple options in every single position.
Gladbach being kicked while they're down
As former Foal Andre Hahn lifted the ball over Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer to seal a 3-1 win for Augsburg, embattled Borussia boss Marco Rose was left to reflect upon the cruelty football can inflict. Gladbach had played some excellent stuff in Bavaria on Friday night, but had squandered a penalty, and missed plenty of other chances besides. Their opponents had managed three shots on target, and had scored with all three.
This doesn't feel like a group of players who have stopped playing for their coach, but the early confirmation of Rose's summer move to Borussia Dortmund has outraged a big chunk of the Foals' fanbase, and the team has lost six straight games in all competitions. Sporting director Max Eberl insists there won't be an early separation between club and coach, but the noise is getting louder.
Gladbach were outclassed by City in the first leg, and it's hard to see how they can come back. In four group games against Inter Milan and Real Madrid, they drew twice and lost twice, blowing late leads at San Siro and at home against Real. The bedrock of their Champions League campaign has been a pair of convincing victories against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Rose will select his strongest available XI for what is now his club's only shot at success this term. Ramy Bensebaini is still struggling with injury, so Swedish veteran Oscar Wendt will again deputise at left-back. Denis Zakaria was rested on Friday, so could return to a holding midfield position, with Jonas Hofmann pushing further forward.
City to cruise into quarter-finals
Gladbach aren't playing as badly as results suggest, but they aren't anywhere near City's level, and they aren't even one of the best five or six sides in Germany right now. I can't see how they will get a foothold in this game, and I imagine City will keep them at arm's length. A City goal surely kills the tie.
I'll back City to win and the game to stay under the 3.5 goals line at 2.04 on the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi. That bet has paid out in five of City's seven Champions League games this season, and if City score first, this could be a gentle stroll.
Alternatively, you could back City -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 1.7, or back them to win to nil at 1.91.
Go with Flo
Gladbach work incredibly hard without the ball, and midfielder Florian Neuhaus is a big part of that. He is sixth-highest in the Gladbach squad when it comes to pressuring the ball carrier, third when it comes to tackles and interceptions, and third of you only look at tackles. All that work makes picking up yellow cards an occupational hazard, and the highly-rated midfielder has racked up eight cautions in the Bundesliga, more than any other Gladbach player.
City will dominate the ball, and Neuhaus will end up doing a lot of chasing. If you can back him to be shown a card at anything above evens, I recommend it.
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