Friday, August 23, 2019

Prediction: Manchester City vs Schalke

Verdict: Raheem Sterling to score anytime 

Best Odds: 20/21

Bookmaker: Bet365

Manchester City are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals as they welcome Schalke for the second leg of their last-16 tie.

Manchester City

Starting with the hosts, while it may have been nervy at times, Pep Guardiola saw his side pick up a commanding 3-1 win over Watford on Saturday and the Sky Blues still hold a one-point buffer at the top of the Premier League. Now enjoying a nine-match winning run across all competitions, a run that also saw them lift the EFL Cup last month, a historic quadruple-winning season is still on the cards for the former Barcelona boss. Leaving it late to clinch a 3-2 win when the two sides met at the Veltins Arena, fans around the Etihad will be looking for England international Raheem Sterling to continue his bright run of form. Bagging a hat-trick against the Hornets over the weekend, the winger also scored the winner when the two sides met in Germany last month. Even more impressive, Sterling has now registered five goals in just his last three appearances on home soil. Overall, it has been City’s scintillating form in the final third really spearheading their title-winning charge. No team across Europe holds a better-attacking record than Tuesday’s hosts and they have now scored 21 goals in their last six matches at the Etihad.

Team News

Manchester City centre-back Aymeric Laporte could return from a hamstring injury but John Stones, who has had a groin problem, still needs to be assessed.

The hosts are already without suspended pair Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho.

Schalke

As for the visitors, while Manchester City might be enjoying a continued bright run of form, the same can not be said for Schalke. Slumping to another very worrying display in their 4-2 hammering away at Werder Bremen on Saturday, the Blues find themselves firmly at the heart of a relegation battle in the Bundesliga. Holding just a four-point buffer from slipping back into the drop zone, Domenico Tedesco will be growing more concerned by his sides ongoing defensive issues. Now conceding four goals in each of their last two appearances, Schalke have conceded three or more goals in their last four matches on the bounce. Fans in Gelsenkirchen will also be growing more worried by their sides’ performances on the road. The visitors have recorded just a single victory away from home since the 6th of October. A shadow of the side that secured a second-place finish in Germany’s top-tier last season, Tuesday’s trip to Manchester could prove to be another extremely testing night for Tedesco and his side.

Team News

Schalke playmaker Daniel Caligiuri has been sidelined for four weeks with a leg injury and will not travel.

Forward Mark Uth and midfielder Amine Harit have been left out of the squad again for disciplinary reasons but full-back Hamza Mendyl could play.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Manchester City have won each of their past three meetings with FC Schalke in European competition, including a 5-1 win in the 1969-70 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final in their only previous home match against the German club.
  • City have only lost one of their 10 previous home meetings with German opponents in all European competitions (W7, D2), a 3-1 reverse in the 2013-14 Champions League group stages against Bayern Munich.
  • Schalke have only won one of their past nine Champions League matches in the knockout stages (D1, L7), although this was their last such away match at Real Madrid in the 2014-15 competition (4-3).
  • Raheem Sterling has now scored five goals in his last three matches at the Etihad.
  • The Sky Blues have also now registered 21 goals in their last six matches at the Etihad.

Conclusion

Given Schalke’s woeful defensive record of late, the in-form Raheem Sterling should be relishing the chance to extend on his recent tally. Bagging a hat-trick at the Etihad over the weekend and scoring the winner in Germany last month, we’re backing the England international to enjoy another successful evening in the final third.

Verdict: Raheem Sterling to score anytime 

Best Odds: 20/21

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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