Steaua Bucharest v Man City – Tuesday 7.45pm, BT Sport 2
The Pep Guardiola era got off to a winning start on the weekend, albeit with a lethargic performance that lacked a creative spark. It’s been 195 days since Man City announced Pep would come in and results stagnated during that period. As a result they must earn their right to go head-to-head with Europe’s elite through the qualification process.
There’s no doubt it’ll be a packed atmospheric stadium in Romania as they welcome the Manchester stars and City shouldn’t expect an easy ride in Bucharest. Steaua have a proud history and their record when hosting bigger clubs remains decent as they’ve lost just two of seven matches here against sides from the ‘Big-Five’ European leagues (W1-D4-L2) in the last five seasons.
They’ve also started the season well, with a 100% record domestically as they set the early pace in the Romanian league. They’ve also come through an earlier round of qualifiers in this competition after getting past Sparta Prague. Nicolae Stanciu scored three times across their two legs with Sparta and was also Steaua’s top scorer last term so he’ll be one to keep an eye on playing behind the main striker Bojan Golubovic. Stanciu is 4.5 to score but don’t expect to see the home team being too adventurous.Steaua should certainly fancy their chances here with their season far more advanced than City’s, and particularly with the Citizens still missing Vincent Kompany, as well new signings Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan. It might take City a while to adjust to Guardiola’s tactics and this game could be closer than expected so we’ll take a chance on the draw at almost 4/1.