This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Verdict: Total goals over 3.5
Best odds: 7/5
The 2020-21 Champions League roller coaster continues this week with a series of interesting matchups in the round of 16. The one between Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City, which will take place on Wednesday night at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, is undoubtedly one of them. .
Interestingly, this will be the seventh time these clubs have met, the most for both sides when it comes to facing a certain opponent in a European competition.
Things have not gone too well for Gladbach this year. They reached the Champions League by finishing fourth in the Bundesliga last season and, for now, it seems highly unlikely that they will repeat that success. They are in eighth place with 33 points, nine less than Eintracht Frankfurt in fourth (and Wolfsburg in third), four less than Bayer Leverkusen in fifth and three less than Borussia Dortmund in sixth. Union Berlin in the seventh has the same account as Gladbach.
The last six games Marco Rose’s team have played have seen them win twice, draw twice and lose twice, and while a 4-2 win over Dortmund at home and 1-2 away to VfB Stuttgart in the third round of the DFB-Pokal can be considered great results, the losses at home to FC Koln and Mainz 05 (both 1-2) certainly cannot. The two draws were 1-1 against Union and 0-0 against Wolfsburg, also away. It could be argued that these recent results have been under the impact of Rose’s imminent departure for Dortmund at the end of the season.
On the other hand, they will be happy with what they have done so far in the Champions League. They managed to go through a difficult Group B, finishing second behind Real Madrid and above Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan.
Speaking ahead of this match, Rose urged his team to be brave against the Premier League leaders, stating that the best way to limit Manchester City’s quality is to not allow them as much time on the ball as they are used to.
Gladbach apparently has no problem with missing players at the moment. There are no ongoing injuries or suspensions, and all players will be highly motivated. It will be interesting to see the lineup Rose is looking for, but many expect the speedy Breel Embolo to start on the attack and pose a significant threat to City’s upper defensive line.
Gladbach’s season may not have gone very well so far, but Manchester City have done very well. After a relatively shaky start, they seem like a well-oiled machine at the moment and have been winning on the left, right, and center.
Naturally, they won all of their last six games; 0-2 away to Burnley, 1-4 away to league champions Liverpool, 1-3 away to FA Cup fifth round championship Swansea, 3-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur, 1-3 away from Everton and 0-1 away from Arsenal. Their form is obviously excellent and they look very strong in all segments of the game.
That form has seen Pep Guardiola’s team rise rapidly up the Premier League table and now hold the top spot firmly, 10 points above city rivals United in second and Leicester City in third, 14 above. West Ham in fourth, 16 over Chelsea in fifth and 19 over Liverpool in sixth. The title is certainly theirs to lose, and apart from that, they are ready to face Spurs in the Carabao Cup final on April 25, and also FA Cup favorites.
City finished as the leader of Group C in the Champions League, winning all but one of the matches at that stage. FC Porto, Olympiacos and Olympique de Marseille have been left behind.
Guardiola will be unable to call defender Nathan Ake due to injury, but will be happy to have midfielder Kevin de Bruyne and forward Sergio Agüero available again. Midfielders Rodri and Phil Foden, as well as defender Kyle Walker, rested against Arsenal on Sunday and all three are expected to start.
City have long dreamed of winning the Champions League. Given that Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini handed over the Premier League title before him, logic suggests that Guardiola was hired to bring in this particular trophy, which would place them firmly among the European elite. The Catalan tactician has failed on that front so far, but make no mistake, it could finally happen this year.
Be that as it may, City are the favorites against Gladbach and will be looking to gain a considerable advantage early on and look forward to the second leg in comfort. However, the combat should be interesting, especially if Rose keeps her word and prepares her men to attack. There should be a good number of chances and hopefully goals.
Verdict: Total goals over 3.5
Best odds: 7/5