Manchester City kept their hopes of qualifying from Group A of the Champions League alive with a last-gasp winner against Villareal on home soil a couple of weeks ago and bookies are confident that Roberto Mancini’s men will do the double over their Spanish counterparts, Stan James chalking 8/13 against a City success at El Madrigal.
However, that price seems to be based on the domestic form of the Premiership leaders, who have yet to really convince in Europe and while a victory for them is a distinct possibility, the price doesn’t appeal.
Admittedly the hosts have lost all three group matches but they eased the pressure on boss Juan Carlos Garrido at the weekend with a much-needed triumph against Rayo Vallecano and the way they almost nicked a point at Eastlands could nudge one or two punters towards Skybet’s 3/1 for the spoils to be shared.
Bet365’s 11/4 for City to edge it by one appeals slightly more but in a tough-to-call encounter it could be worth taking slightly more of a gamble by backing Mario Balotelli at 5/1 (Paddy Power) to open the scoring. The controversial striker is in a rich vein of form and the fact that he didn’t start against Wolves on Saturday suggests that he will be in Mancini’s first eleven in Spain.
Manchester United’s task looks far more straightforward as last year’s runners up entertain Otelul Galati. The Romanian side haven’t quite been the whipping boys some pundits expected but Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops nevertheless overcame them reasonably easily away from home and they’re impossible to oppose here.