Can Man City get past Barcelona?
It’s that time of year when we allow ourselves to look ahead at the big games in prospect. And they don’t come much bigger for reigning Premier League champions Manchester City than their two-leg tie versus Barcelona on 24th February and 18th March.
But can City possibly progress against the team that has been the most successful overall in Europe since the turn of the century?
Well the odds suggest they can’t. As things stand, Barca are 4/11 favourites to qualify, with City generally around the 2/1 mark. These look like generous odds for the English champions who are just beginning to play like we all know they can.
Remember that last year, City beat German champions Bayern Munich 2-3 in their own backyard having come from two goals down to win. This season in the Champions League qualifying stages at home at the Etihad they also came from 2-1 down to win 3-2 against Bayern.
What’s more – the first leg of their two games against Barcelona will be played at home. And though this probably isn’t the way they would have wanted it, this could work to City’s advantage if they can carry a decent lead to the Camp Nou.
So it’s a good value bet. Yes, if you were staking your life on the team to progress, you’d place your bet on Lionel Messi and co. But City have demonstrated they’re capable of beating any team on their day and they’ll be desperately keen to truly prove themselves on the international stage.
Perhaps the shrewder punt then, is to back City to win the whole thing? Currently, they’re available at a generous 16/1 – but those odds will surely be slashed by over 50 per cent should they manage to progress against Barcelona.
Bayern remain warm favourites in the Champions League outright market at a best-priced 5/2 with Bet 365 and others at the time of writing. This may reflect their chances well, but doesn’t offer a huge amount of value for punters.
It’s the same story in the German domestic market. When it comes to Bundesliga betting, we have to be a little creative in our thinking because Bayern Munich will win it! They’re currently 11 points clear of closest rivals Wolfsburg and will surely win it at a canter.
But this may not do them any favours. Yes, it allows former Barca boss Pep Guardiola to rest key players. But the Spanish and English contenders are having to play superior opposition week in and week out – which helps keep the teams on their toes far more. So – barring injury – a highly competitive domestic league can actually have a beneficial overall effect.
Perhaps, then, we should look to Stamford Bridge for the best overall value. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are currently fourth favourites behind Bayern, holders Real Madrid, and Barca at around 7/1. But this is surely the trophy the “Special One” wants more than any other with Chelsea as it has eluded him so far (though of course he managed to win it with both Porto and Inter Milan).