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Champions League preview: Man City vs Gladbach, Real Madrid vs Atalanta

Premier League saturday

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Champions League preview: Man City vs Gladbach, Real Madrid vs Atalanta

Champions League preview: Man City vs Gladbach, Real Madrid vs Atalanta

Man City vs Borussia Monchengladbach

Having scored twice without reply in the first leg, City have little to fear from Gladbach, it seems; with respect to the German side, they are one of the less fearsome teams left in the competition, and all signs point to the hosts breezing past this formality of a second leg – before Pep Guardiola can begin to overthink the quarter-finals in classic Pep fashion.

City have conceded just a single goal so far in this Champions League campaign, Porto scoring at the Etihad in the first game of the group stage. As for Gladbach, they’ve lost their last three Champions League matches failing to score in their last two outings – and their domestic form is dismal too, with five defeats and a draw from their last six matches.

Football is a funny game Saint, but in their last five meetings with City, Gladbach have lost four of them, while the remaining game ended in a draw. You have to go back to 1979 for the last time the Foals beat City. Surely all that can prevent a home win on Tuesday would be a level of complacency from City that Guardiola just won’t permit.

Does that mean super happy fun times as far as score lines go? At this stage a couple of years ago, City spanked Bundesliga side Schalke 7-0. I’m not saying it’s going to be bad as all that, but this could undoubtedly be a painful night for the visitors.

City’s domestic form has seen them score at least three goals per match in three of their last four league games. In this Champions League campaign, they’ve played seven games and scored three goals in four of them (three of which ended 3-0).

You can get 49/50 on over 2.5 goals by Man City; or if you prefer something a little more daring, you could back that recurring scoreline of 3-0 for City at 13/2.

Real Madrid vs Atalanta

Atalanta were fancied in some quarters to pose Real problems in the first leg. It didn’t turn out that way, the Italian side having Remo Freuler sent off after just 17 minutes, though Zidane’s visitors left it late to take the win, Ferland Mendy scoring the game’s only goal in the 86th minute.

Real have not always convinced in this Champions League campaign, losing both their group games to Shakhtar Donetsk. Still, their early season wobbles seem largely behind them, and Zidane’s side are unbeaten in La Liga in seven matches.

Atalanta are in a good place themselves though, with their only two defeats since the start of February coming against Real and Serie A leaders Inter. Atalanta warmed up for this one with a 3-1 defeat of Spezia, and main striker Luis Muriel has four goals in his last six Serie A appearances.

More pointedly, Atalanta have made a habit of doing things unconventionally. They failed to win any of their home group stage matches, but progressed to the round of 16 nonetheless; they have beaten Ajax and Liverpool on the road to get this far.

Barcelona are out. Juventus are out. It’s the year of the underdog (and, er Man City). Might Atalanta be able to pull this off? It could happen, though Real will be welcoming back the always influential captain Sergio Ramos, who returned from knee surgery to play in the win against Elche on Saturday.

The romantic in me wants to back Atalanta to win at 23/10; if you’re unconvinced, perhaps backing Karim Benzema to score for the hosts is the better call. The Frenchman has five goals from his last four appearances for Real (including two at the weekend), and is 11/8 to score at any time on Tuesday.

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