Tue, Feb 21, 11:29am by Senior Writer
It’s been eight and half years since the Abu Dhabi Sports Group took over Manchester City and promised to make them the next giants of European football.
But while they may have won the Premier League and League Cup twice and the FA Cup once since that revolution took place, they have not come close to claiming the most prestigious piece of silverware in European club football, the UEFA Champions League.
Twelve months ago, they made the semi final, only to be outclassed over two legs by eventual champions Real Madrid, while the previous four occasions they failed to make it past the Round of 16.
On Wednesday (AEDT), they face Monaco in the first of two legs of a Round of 16 tie, s clear favourites to progress.
Sportsbet have Manchester City at $1.42 to progress to the next round with Monaco, who are currently flying high at the top of Ligue 1, at $2.73 to get through to just their second quarter final since they made the final in 2004.
The first match is at Etihad Stadium, where City are unbeaten in Champions League matches in their past nine, including six wins. Accordingly, they are $1.61 to win this match with Monaco at $5 and the draw at $4.33.
Monaco are unbeaten in their past seven away games, but their form on the road in the Champions League is less convincing. They lost to Bayer Leverkusen, drew with CSKA Moscow and beat Tottenham in their three away matches in the group stage.
City, who were held 0-0 by lower league Huddersfield in the FA Cup on the weekend, will be again without skipper Vincent Kompany and injured striker Gabriel Jesus, but boast plenty of depth up front. They had eight different scorers in the group stages. Sergio Aguero is $4 favourite to score the first goal with Kelechi Iheanacho second pick at $4.20.
Monaco also boast plenty of scoring power and are the highest scoring team in Europe’s main leagues this season. Redemel Falcao has 19 goals in 25 appearances this season and is $6.50 to score the first goal.
Over 2.5 goals may be worth a play at $1.62 given both these sides love to attack.
The other match on Wednesday pits Bayer Leverkusen against last year’s beaten finalists Atletico Madrid.
Atletico’s recent record in this competition is outstanding having made two of the past three finals, and lost in the quarters in the year in between. On each occasion, it was Real Madrid which ended their run at the title. They played Leverkusen at this stage two years ago and progressed on penalties.
They are currently fourth in the La Liga but are unbeaten in their past eight matches. Significantly, they are likely to gain first-choice keeper Jan Obiak.
Leverkusen are battling in eighth at the moment in the Bundesliga, but have won their past two games, with Javier Hernandez scoring for goals.
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