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Sunday, 09 March 2014

Bookies believe Manchester City have a fighting chance in the Nou Camp

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Bookmakers don't make money being generous. The prices being offered on Manchester City's chances of getting through their Champions League tie with Barcelona are miserly to say the least.

Let's just recap. City go to the Catalan city two goals down from the first leg in Manchester. Statistically, teams losing the home leg of European ties by that score progress to the next round in just two per cent of ties - and yet many firms have the Blues marked up as low as 8/1 to turn matters around.

Now this could be put down to bookies being typically tight with their cash, but it also reflects something about the teams involved. Arsenal for instance, are generally at 25/1 or longer to perform the same feat in Munich.

City capital one cup
In the Barca-City tie the oddsmakers are well aware of the talent and firepower in Manuel Pellegrini's squad. And last weekend's Capital One Cup Final proved again that they have the capacity to produce something stunning to turn a game.

There is also the feeling that this Barcelona side is no longer all-conquering; still brilliant of course, but not the team of two years ago who frightened every other side before they even stepped on to the park.

Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid have all proved in their own ways that it is possible to get a result against Barca. Plus, the way teams approach European knockout football has changed dramatically.

For the first 25 years of European football the prevailing wisdom was to win home matches and try desperately not to concede away goals. Losing a home leg was the absolute taboo but now teams view away ties differently.

City will strive to score the first goal in the game and even if that comes relatively late, Pellegrini will emphasise that pressure than shifts to the opposition. Teams like Manchester City have no difficulty believing they can score twice against anyone - keeping a clean sheet is the problem.

These are the sort of considerations that have prompted firms to offer such cramped odds on Man City success. Blues fans might not fancy a punt at those odds but they will be happy about the thinking behind them.

Odds to qualify:

Barcelona                        1/50

Man City                         10/1

Odds from William Hill on March 8.

Calling all City fans: Do you still believe you can turn this tie around? We'd love to hear from you.

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Hugh Larkin



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