After successive seasons of flunking their Champions League exams, there’s absolutely no guaranteeing that a change of manager will be enough to turn the tide for Manchester City.
Here’s why Pavel Vrba’s Viktoria Plzen – 23/20 in the double chance market – may be able to keep City waiting in their bid to announce themselves at European football’s top table.
Plzen are the form side
The Gambrinus Liga kings are in rude health on the home front as they bid to defend the title they won for just the second time in their history last term.
Viktoria are well and truly in the winning rhythm with two away draws the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect record in their first 14 matches of 2013/14.
City’s away form is a continuing millstone
Having lost five of their six Champions League road games across the last two campaigns it’s clear that the cuteness needed to get results away from the Etihad has been lacking on their European jaunts.
A loss in Cardiff and a draw at Stoke in the Premier League this season would suggest those continental failings were part of a wider malaise and City won less away games than any other club in the English top five last term.
The hosts know how to get results in Europe
This is the Czechs’ second season in the Champions League after a far from humiliating debut in 2011/12, in which they took a point off AC Milan and four from BATE Borisov, losing only 2-0 away to Barcelona.
Last term they showed the benefits of that European education when narrowly losing out to Fenerbahce in the Europa League quarter-finals.
Along the way they beat strong Atletico Madrid and Napoli sides at the Doosan Arena, with the victory over the Spanish side a particularly fine exercise in efficient chance-taking, coming as it did off just 36 per cent of the possession.