UEFA Champions League preview: Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur – 2nd leg clash – Quarter-finals – Etihad Stadium, London – Wednesday, April 17, 2019 – 20 hrs GMT
Manchester City vs Tottenham Predictions
Manchester City vs Tottenham Preview
Having got the better of Manchester City in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) by a solitary goal, Tottenham travel to the midlands for the return fixture of the Round of 8 at the Etihad stadium on Wednesday. Since their advent into the Champions League, City have gone past the quarter-finals only once in the 8 versions of the UCL they have featured in so far. The UAE owners spent close to €600 million in the transfer market during Pep Guardiola's tenure but City have hardly been able to make any impact on the European stage since the ex-Barcelona coach took over at the Etihad three years ago. Guardiola's success rate at the quarter-final stage is nil. The previous season saw City being drubbed at Anfield by Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg and to rub salt into their wounds were beaten 1-2 at the Etihad in the return clash sending Pep Guardiola's men crashing out of the tournament on a 1-5 aggregate. Even during his time at Bayern Munich, the 48-year-old never managed to take the Bavarians into the final of the Champions League. This time, it is another English opponent in Tottenham Hotspur and the writing on the wall is not looking pretty for Man City.
Guardiola was all in a cautious mode in the first leg Wembley tie and appeared more concerned as to what Spurs could do rather than mobilizing his resources to the fullest. Leaving out players like Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane was a blunder in the first place. Surprisingly, he included the two in the starting XI in the weekend Premier League clash against Crystal Palace.
Despite City's packed schedule, Guardiola was not able to rest key players like Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and Ilkay Gundogan for the Selhurst Park clash (which under normal circumstances he would have regarded as inconsequential) just to stay in contention for the Premier League title hunt, what with Liverpool breathing down their necks on the points table.
For Tottenham Hotspur, the potential long-term absence of prime striker Harry Kane owing to injury would have normally cast a shadow on future proceedings, but Mauricio Pochettino's men seem to be doing just fine as Son Heung-min demonstrated with a solo effort that earned his team a winner at the Wembley in the first leg. Lucas Moura's weekend hattrick in Spurs 4-0 win over Huddersfield further validates that point. Even without Kane, individuals like Del Alli, Christian Eriksen, Moura and Son could be a handful for the City defense to deal with.
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Tottenham Hotspur have markedly improved their performance against City since 2015. Of the nine games played since, the honours have been distributed with four wins apiece with the Spurs even winning 2-1 on the trip to the Etihad in 2016. This is Tottenham's third Champions League appearance in succession after a prolonged gap of five seasons and probably their best performance till date. The highpoint of their European 2018-19 campaign has been the demolition of Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate. Pochettino's men can draw on some superb performances of the previous season when they bested the then champions Real Madrid 4-1 in a Group fixture. A 2-2 draw against Serie A giants Juventus away in Turin and 1-1 draw with Barcelona at Nou Camp demonstrates the North London club's temperament in away games. By comparison, Man City's opposition in their run-up to the quarter-finals in both this and the previous seasons were mostly mediocre.
Despite this, Guardiola's side remain favourites to reach the semi-finals.
- Manchester City win: 2/7
- Tottenham Hotspur win: 10/1
All in all, an epic all-English battle could be on the cards and match could be much closer than the odds above suggest.