Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City: Pep's men to resist Haaland surge
Manchester City have a 2-1 lead ahead of the second leg of this Champions League quarter-final, and Kevin Hatchard believes they'll progress in style, even though Erling Haaland will make his mark.
Fragile Dortmund are their own worst enemy
Borussia Dortmund stayed in the hunt for Champions League qualification at the weekend, as they secured a chaotic 3-2 victory at Stuttgart. We saw the good, the bad and the ugly in southern Germany. The second and third BvB goals were things of beauty, one a sweeping team move that ended with Marco Reus stroking the ball into the far corner, the other a piece of individual brilliance from fleet-footed teenager Ansgar Knauff (his first ever Bundesliga goal). On the other side of the coin, Dortmund gave away two bad goals, especially Daniel Didavi's late leveller, a goal that saw the Borussia defence melt away feebly.
Borussia Dortmund's inability to deliver complete performances was in evidence in Manchester last week.
Dortmund were excellent at the Etihad, and scored a slick, deserved equaliser through Marco Reus. However, they failed to cut out a cross from Kevin De Bruyne at the death, and Phil Foden rolled the ball home for the winner. This is typical of Dortmund's season - they have had Bayern on the ropes in the league and the DFL Supercup, but they've ultimately lost all three meetings with the record champions. Even when they wiped the floor with Sevilla in the round of 16, they still conceded a dozy goal late in the first leg that could've been costly.
Former City starlet Jadon Sancho is back in training after injury, but this game comes too soon for him. 17-year-old England midfielder Jude Bellingham, who excelled in the first leg and had a goal wrongly ruled out, is expected to start once again. Mats Hummels and Marco Reus are expected to shake off minor knocks.
Opportunity knocks for favourites
Although Manchester City weren't at their sparkling best in the first leg, they created enough chances to win the game before Phil Foden's fine late strike. The impeccable Kevin De Bruyne scored a goal and made another, and although the late concession of an away goal would normally be seen as damaging, these are not normal times.
The Yellow Wall will be empty, and City will look to follow in the footsteps of Bayern, Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt and even lowly Köln by winning at Signal Iduna Park. This is not the fortress it was under Thomas Tuchel and in the early part of Lucien Favre's reign.
It's also worth remembering that City have won 27 of their last 29 matches in all competitions. On the road, they have won 15 straight games, a sequence that stretches back to mid-December. This is a team that is pretty close to the peak of its powers.
City rested a clutch of players in the weekend's defeat to Leeds, a result that was utterly immaterial given the domestic dominance of Pep Guardiola's side. Expect De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Rodri, Phil Foden and former Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gündogan to all return.
City to reach the final four
I'll admit I was surprised by how hard Dortmund pushed City last week, but I don't believe they'll be disciplined enough to repeat that. Since coach Edin Terzic replaced Lucien Favre, the team plays in a more proactive manner, but he hasn't fixed the defensive issues and the bouts of sloppiness that have plagued the team for years.
City will create plenty of chances here against a team that can't call upon the incredible Dortmund crowd, and I'll back them to win the second leg and for there to be at least three goals at 2.1 on the Sportsbook.
Alternatively, it seems conceivable that City will win the game, but BVB talisman Erling Haaland will have at least one shot on target. You can back that outcome at 2.46 on the Bet Builder.
Foden can shine again
Phil Foden was a thorn in Dortmund's side last week, and it was no surprise when he scored at the death. He is priced at 15/8 to score at any time, and 23/10 to have at least two shots on target. Dortmund have to take risks at some stage, and Foden's clever movement and attacking instincts should allow him to wreak havoc.
Erling Haaland drew a good save from Ederson in the first leg, and he teed up Marco Reus' equaliser. The Norwegian is 10/11 to have at least three shots (not necessarily on target), and if Dortmund are to find a way back into the contest, he will be their focal point.
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