Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will continue his pursuit of his first UEFA Champions League crown since 2011 as he takes his side to the VELTINS-Arena to face Schalke 04 in the first-leg of the side’s last 16 tie on Wednesday.
The reigning Premier League champions come into the clash as one of the favourites to scoop the trophy come the end of the campaign. The Sky blues can be backed at odds of 10/3 with BetVictor to win the Champions League, whilst Domenico Tedesco’s troops are available at a price of 250/1.
The two teams have actually met on three occasions before, but never in Europe’s elite competition. The last time they clashed was back in 2008 in the UEFA Cup. Goals from Benjani and Stephen Ireland gave Manchester City the victory that day. The last two-legged affair between the two was in the 1970’s in UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup action. Both sides claimed victory but a 5-1 win for City in the return leg saw them overturn a 1-0 deficit and progress to the next round of the competition. Once again, the visitors are favourites to win this time too with odds as slim as 3/10 available with Betfred. Schalke are listed at a price of 10/1, whilst a draw in Germany is available at 5/1.
One man that the hosts will certainly know all about is Leroy Sane, who Manchester City swooped for from Schalke in 2016. Having bagged 13 goals in 57 games for Die Königsblauen before his move to England, the 23-year-old is at 5/1 with Paddy Power to hit the opening goal of the game. Meanwhile, a close eye will have to be kept on Sergio Aguero. The Argentine is in red hot form at the current time and has scored 11 goals in his last 10 games in all competitions. He sits at 11/4 to strike first in Germany. Regarding Schalke, the favourite to find the net first is Ahmed Kutucu. Despite being only 18-years-old, the youngster has already claimed a starting spot in the team and has odds of 13/1 to score the first goal of the game.
Despite heading to Germany in a confident mood, the Sky Blues could be missing a few key players. Long-term absentees Benjamin Mendy, Claudio Bravo and Vincent Kompany all remain ruled out. The trio have been joined on the sidelines by John Stones and Gabriel Jesus. The biggest loss for the hosts is forward Breel Embolo who has been out since November with a fractured foot. Former Tottenham man Benjamin Stambouli is out with a facial injury and is joined in the treatment room by Steven Skrzybski and Alessandro Schopf.