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UEFA Champions League Tips & Preview: Manchester City v Monaco

Pep Guardiola’s boys have recovered to an extent from the humiliation they faced at the hands of Everton last month and have clocked three wins on the trot after that. The Citizens face an acid test on February 21 when they face Monaco in the 1st leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie. A season or two ago this wouldn’t have been considered a big threat. But Leonardo Jardim’s men now are a team one should really be scared of. The Monacoans are not just the leaders of the French Ligue 1 but they have been emphatic in the manner they have maintained their top slot. The 75 goals they have banged in from their 25 Ligue games is 25 more than that of next best Paris St Germain’s 50. Just everyone has been into goals.

Kylian Mbappe the 18-year old prodigy who has been used sparingly by Jardim has joined the ranks of Falcao and Boschilia as a scorer to be reckoned with. His hat-trick against Metz in a Ligue 1 clash last weekend signaled just that.

With Sagna, Stones, Kolarov and Fernandinho not looking so sure at the back for Manchester City, it’s hard to imagine folks like Falcao & co. not finding the back of the net at least once. For City the only solution will be to get as many goals as they can before they travel to Monaco for the 2nd leg in March. The Citizens have in their ranks now some additional firepower upfront in the form of the 19-year Brazilian Gabriel Jesus who has already scored three from his four outings. But an injury against Bournemouth last weekend may force him out of the Monaco clash. City are expected to be in full strength upfront with mainstays Aguero, Sterling, Silva and De Bruyne all expected to feature. Monaco will miss the valuable services of attacking midfielder Gabriel Boschilla recovering from a torn ligament. Similarly, Ilkay Gundogan will be absent in the midfield for the hosts thanks to a knee injury.

Manchester City’s advent to the Round of 16 was rocky. Although they wound up the preliminary rounds with an impressive 3-1 win over Barcelona at the Etihad, they finished the Group on the 2nd spot with a measly 9 points, six points behind leaders Barcelona. They were able to win just two of their 6 outings, draw three and lose one to Barcelona 0-4 away at Nou Camp. At home in the EPL they have managed to claw their way back to the 2nd spot on the League table but title hopes seem far away with Chelsea ahead by a whopping 8 points.

Monaco apart from being at the top of the Ligue 1 for all of 2017 now, have performed exceptionally in the Champions League Group stages besting teams like Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur and going on to head the cluster in the process.

Since Monaco and Manchester have never run into each other before, Tuesday night’s clash at the Etihad will be a fascinating one. Playing at home and on the back of recent wins in the Premier League, City fancy their chances and which is what bookmakers are wagering on, too. But things may not turn out as the odds suggest. A 2-1 win for Man City is the general consensus. But don’t rule out a scenario that could result in the reverse.

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