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Manchester City poised to prove European credentials against Juventus

15 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Manchester City poised to prove European credentials against Juventus

The Premier League leaders have underperformed in the Champions League - there can be no excuses for failing this year, though

The hundreds of millions of pounds spent on new players since Khaldoon Al Mubarak took over Manchester City in 2008 is yet to result in a genuine Champions League challenge.

Curiously for a club that has ambitions of establishing itself as one of the game’s superpowers, their supporters remain strangely ambivalent about Europe’s premier club competition.

Maybe it is because they are still adjusting to the relatively new-found success of their side, who were languishing in English football’s third tier just 16 years ago.

European matches at the Etihad Stadium don not always sell out – tickets are sometimes offered at discounted prices to the city’s university students – while the atmosphere within the ground can be muted.

But while that perhaps explains why City have never progressed beyond the last 16 of the competition, it does not justify it.

There can be no excuses for failure this year, though, in what is their fifth successive appearance in the tournament.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who are four points clear at the top of the Premier League with five wins from as many games and no goals conceded, are playing with an authority that should enable them to improve on their previous-best finish of the round of 16.

And their Group D opener at home to Juventus – last season’s beaten finalists – is the perfect game to demonstrate their credentials.

Pellegrini will be able to select David Silva and Raheem Sterling, who missed the 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at the weekend with ankle and hamstring injuries respectively.

That is a significant boost for the home side, who are 4/5 to claim all three points.

They will have to do so without Sergio Aguero, however, after the Argentine striker suffered a knee injury at Selhurst Park which rules him out for at least the match on Tuesday.

Wilfried Bony is likely to replace the Argentine striker and is 6/1 to score first in a victory for the hosts.

Despite winning just one of their four home games in Europe last season, City will be confident of overcoming Juventus, who have not triumphed in England since beating their red neighbours United 1-0 in the 1996/97 group stages.

More tellingly, the Italian champions have endured an inauspicious start to their Serie A season, losing their opening two games and only drawing 1-1 at Chievo on Saturday.

It was summer signing Paulo Dybala – brought in to replace former City striker Carlos Tevez – who salvaged a point for the Bianconeri with a penalty and the 21-year-old is 10/1 to score at any time in a win for the visitors.

But that seems unlikely.

City are playing formidably – marrying a strong and organised defensive unit with an exciting and attacking flair that makes them the most devastating side in the country.

An early win over one of the leading sides in Europe, therefore, can establish them as serious contenders and capture their fans’ imagination for the competition.

It is not before time.

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READ: 5 teams that can win the Champions League

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