Establishing a first-leg advantage is paramount if Manchester City are to advance to the Champions League final.
They entertain Real Madrid in the first of two semi-final ties with the bwin odds masters making them 2/1 underdogs for the win.
As veterans in the latter stages of this competition taking on rank novices (this is the furthest the Citizens have ever ventured in the Champions League), it’s easy to understand why Real have been attributed the short prices, but if the hosts want to upset the odds, the biggest rookie on their roster could prove vital.
Kelechi Iheanacho has featured in approximately five minutes in Europe’s elite competition across his single-season senior career so far and has generally been used sparingly by Manuel Pellegrini across the campaign.
However, when the 19-year-old has got on the pitch, he has rarely squandered an opportunity.
His brace against Stoke City last time out took his tally to 11 across all comps, a figure he has amassed despite being afforded just eight starts.
On the instances in which he has started, City have tended to flourish too.
They’ve won seven from eight with Iheanacho on the field from the off, with the only blemish on this record coming in the FA Cup fifth round at Chelsea, where Pellegrini’s side lost 5-1 after essentially fielding a youth team to conserve his main players’ legs.
With this Real game on the horizon, the decision to start the Nigerian against Stoke was doubtless made with the same motive in mind, but the rate at which he delivers must make him worth the gamble in a game City need to win.
It’s a similar scenario to the one bitter rivals Manchester United were faced with when starting Marcus Rashford for the do-or-die Europa League clash with Midtjylland.
United’s decision to pitch in teenage striker Rashford was necessitated through injuries to more experienced colleagues, but he still did the business in a high-pressure situation and has barely stopped since.
Iheanacho’s place in the XI could be preserved if Jesus Navas was to drop to the bench for Kevin De Bruyne. A price of 7/2 says he scores as part of a City win.