Club Brugge v Man City: Goals the smart selection in group-stage thriller

Pep Guardiola's side are clear favourites but may not have things all their own way on Tuesday evening, writes James Eastham...

Hosts at full strength

Club Brugge should be able to field their strongest line-up for this blue riband fixture. The hosts are expected to use a 4-4-1-1 formation. For their two Champions League fixtures so far, Brandon Mechele - a regular starter for the title holders in league fixtures - has stood down, and Scotland centre-back Jack Hendry has stepped into the back four.

For Manchester City, Ferran Torres has been ruled out until the end of the year with a foot fracutre. The visitors are expected to be at full strength in most other areas, meaning especially stiff competition for places in attack.

Club Brugge exceeding expectations

There's an obvious gulf in class between these two sides yet Man City run the risk of being punished if they fail to take Club Brugge seriously.

The Belgian hosts have acquitted themselves far better than many observers expected in this tournament so far, defying the odds to pick up four points from their opening two Group A fixtures.

On Matchday 1 they secured a deserved 1-1 home draw vs a PSG side that featured Lionel Messi making his European debut for the Ligue 1 champions.

On Matchday 2 Philippe Clement's side produced an arguably even more impressive performance, coming from 1-0 behind to win 2-1 at Red Bull Leipzig thanks to first-half goals from Hans Vanaken and Mats Rits.

Stepping up as they have in Europe is testament to the experience that Club Brugge have built up at the highest level in recent years.

Dominant in their domestic division, Club Brugge have not always impressed on the continental stage.

A certain maturity has imbued their outings in this season's competition, as though the players finally feel capable of competing on the biggest stage.

Whereas some underdogs try to obtain points via a safety-first approach, Club Bruges tend to do the opposite.

A fearless, front-foot performance is more likely in front of a noisy sell-out crowd made up of supporters that will relish the prospect of seeing what their side can do against last season's beaten finalists.

Open encounter on cards

Club Brugge are 12 to win, with Man City 1.3 and The Draw 6.4. At those odds, a lay of City is an appealing proposition, given that Brugge avoided defeat against PSG.

The short odds on City throw up other ways of supporting the hosts. For example, you can back Club Brugge at -1.5 & -2.0 on the Asian Handicap. With this selection, at 1.95, you'll make a profit if Club Brugge win, draw or lose by only one goal.

You'll lose only half your stakes if the hosts lose by two goals. Only a home defeat by three or more goals would see you lose all your stakes. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.

Club Brugge's scoring record offers another potential route to profit. The hosts are far from Europe's most prolific side but have found the net in 14/14 fixtures across all competitions so far this season.

In Noa Lang and Charles de Ketelaere they have two highly-rated youngsters that will pose a threat. The former is a 22-year-old Netherlands international, the latter a 20-year-old Belgium international. Thanks to a number of impressive performances over the past 18 months, the pair have been linked with a number of bigger clubs abroad.

At the other end, Club Brugge's defending can be erratic, as their goals-against record shows: they've kept just five clean sheets across their 14 games in all competitions so far this season, conceding an average of 1.21 goals a game.

Club Brugge's scoring pattern, mediocre defensive record and the fact that you would expect Man City to get on the scoresheet against such opposition points us towards the Both teams to Score? market.

'Yes' is available at around evens. This is a tempting selection given the form of the two sides and the way Club Brugge are likely to approach the game.

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