Man City: DLWWW
Kick Off: 19:45, 24/08/16
TV: BT Sport 2
Man City Team News: Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany remain confined to the sick bay, though Bacary Sagna could return having missed the last two matches.
Steaua Team News: The visitors won’t be able to call upon cruciate ligament victim Lucien Filip at the Etihad, while it’s unlikely Alin Tosca, Bojan Golubovic, Mihai Pintilii will feature either.
Manchester City host Steaua Bucharest in the conclusive leg of their Champions League play-off tie, with the Citizens’ progress to the group stages all but confirmed.
After scoring five without reply in the corresponding clash, Pep Guardiola needn’t field his strongest side here, yet the bookies don’t see potential complacency from the hosts affecting the outcome.
They make City 9/50 favourites to further enhance their whopping aggregate lead at the Etihad, with their Romanian counterparts on offer at 27/2 and the draw is a slightly more modest 11/2.
Having cruised to a 5-0 win in Bucharest (though Sergio Aguero’s brace of missed penalties meant it should’ve been 7-0) and then slammed four past Stoke City in their weekend Premier League match, Guardiola has clearly got the Citizens’ frontmen firing from the outset and, for many punters, the big question here is: how many will they win by this time?
Again, the oddsmakers at bwin.com provide a bit of insight as to the answer: a lot.
When affording Steaua a two-goal head start in the handicap stakes, they make City a mere 13/10 to prevail and the same price is up for grabs for those who fancy a home win with over 3.5 goals in the game.
If the visitors’ outclassing in the first leg didn’t completely quash their hopes of a second-leg reprieve, a horrendous record in England, coupled with their base-camp battering, certainly will. In nine trips to Blighty they’re yet to record a single win, losing seven times.
In all bar one of the last four losses, however, they did at least manage a goal, which augments the appeal of a City winning a match where both teams find the net, available to back at 9/5.
Guardiola’s troops allowed Sunderland an unlikely goal in their season opener, nor could they keep Stoke out at the weekend. Football historians must travel all the way back to 2011 to unearth the last time City kept a clean sheet in front of the faithful inside their first three Champions League home matches of the season too, making a home victory and both protagonists bagging a good bet.