Can Manchester City finish the job and book their place in the next round?
Man City produced another lacklustre display at the weekend to all but end any hope of winning the league this season. However, while their other main domestic rivals are also floundering they can at least console themselves by the fact they’ve won the League Cup and look well placed here to move into the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time.
For a team of City’s finances and quality to have not won back-to-back matches in the league since early October is staggering but they seem to have reserved many of their best efforts for this competition. The win in Kiev was as good an away performance as they’ve produced all season, while the wins in Seville and Monchengladbach were also up there.
Defensively though, there have to be questions about how their European ambitions match up with the fact they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 15 home matches in Europe, and have only two in their last 31 home or away on the continent. Nine of their last 11 UCL home matches have had at least three goals, as have 18 of their last 19 at home in all competitions, so don’t expect a repeat of their performance at Norwich.
Dynamo will certainly have to go for it if they want to qualify as they must score at least three times to go through. 10 times a side has lost at home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout match by either 3-1 or 3-0 scores and on four occasions they then conceded at least four goals in the return, though that includes a 4-4 between Chelsea and Liverpool. However, while half these games saw lots of goals five finished with fewer than three and with Dynamo probably already focussing more on defending their domestic title – where Shakhtar gave them a hand last weekend – we wouldn’t be surprised if they rested a few players and largely looked to avoid any significant damage.
Without knowing Dynamo’s mindset for this match we’d avoid the goals markets. However, they’ve not failed to score on the road since August and with the Citizens shaky backline we can expect them to pose a few problems. But City should be too strong and the record of Ukrainian sides on English soil is not good: they’ve failed to win 24 attempts in the Europa and Champions League since the start of 1997/98 as they’ve lost 19 times and that includes 12 defeats in 13 UCL matches.
11 of City’s last 13 home wins have come despite conceding as have 10 of their last 11 Champions League wins (home or away) and that’s our best bet in this game.