Pep Guardiola's dream of lifting the Champions League in his first season as Manchester City boss really kicks into gear as City take their knock-out bow against Monaco tomorrow.
Guardiola would have been forgiven a smile when the side from the principality were picked out of the hat ahead of more illustrious group-winners, but City should underestimate Monaco at their peril.
Just ask Arsenal, who were knocked-out at this stage in 2015, or Tottenham, who were beaten home and away in this season’s group stage.
Monaco sit top of France’s Ligue 1 and are on a 12-match unbeaten run, with Leonardo Jardim’s entertaining side scoring 108 times in all competitions so far this season.
Radamel Falcao is enjoying a new lease of life after two miserable years in England – the Monaco skipper has 20 goals this term for a side that has scored four or more times on 12 separate occasions.
Fortunately for City, they appear to have found form at the right time too.
After a tricky autumn that saw them slip back in the title race, Guardiola finally looks like he has City playing the way he wants.
While the 0-0 draw against Huddersfield in the FA Cup on Saturday wasn’t ideal preparation for tonight, City had won the four games before that at a canter.
They go into this game at the Etihad as pretty short favourites – perhaps with the 3-1 dismantling of Barcelona on the same ground in November in mind.
However, I think Monaco can get a result tomorrow, and I like the 16/5 for the draw with 188BET.
City’s defence has been their Achilles heel all season, and against a Monaco outfit with so much fire-power, the French side can be optimistic of nicking something.
Ilkay Gundogan played a starring role in the win over Barca but is out for the rest of the season, and new signing Gabriel Jesus’ electric start to life in England has been put on hold through injury too.
City can’t risk conceding vital away goals, and we could see a tight, counter-attacking affair.
I suggest backing under 2.5 total goals at 9/7 with 188BET.
Draw – 16/5 (188BET)
Under 2.5 goals – 9/7 (188BET)