The Champions League returns with treble-chasing Manchester City travelling to Copenhagen, and the Racing Post's Aaron Ashley has picked out his three bets for the contest
The Champions League has reached the business end with only 16 teams still left in the hunt to be crowned European champions and last season’s winners Manchester City remain the one they all have to beat.
The all-conquering Citizens completed a famous treble by winning their first Champions League crown last term and they have eased into the knockout stages of their title defence, winning all six of their matches to advance from Group G as section winners.
The reward for their dominance over Leipzig, Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade is a two-legged tie with Copenhagen, who eclipsed the efforts of Manchester United and Galatasaray to follow Bayern Munich home in Group A.
The Danish club will be keen to highlight their improvement from last season’s double-header with City, who won 5-0 at the Etihad on matchday three before settling for a goalless draw a week later at Venue Parken.
Manchester City to win & both teams to score - 2/1
Manchester City are growing in stature at the right time of the season and their upturn in form looks ominous for Danish side Copenhagen.
City’s victory at the FIFA Club World Cup prior to Christmas has sparked them into life and Pep Guardiola’s gang have now won 12 on the spin in all competitions after Saturday’s 2-0 victory at home to Everton.
With scoring sensation Erling Haaland and creative spark Kevin De Bruyne now back fit and healthy, Guardiola has a full strength squad to choose from and their wealth of options could overwhelm Copenhagen.
City won all six of their group-stage games and they are 1/4 to record another Champions League victory at Venue Parken, where Copenhagen have triumphed in only three of their last seven matches in the Danish Superliga.
That recent form may spell trouble for them against a free-scoring City, who have struck at least three times in eight of their last 11 away games.
That said, there has been the occasional lapse in concentration defensively from the visitors and Copenhagen has the attacking quality to net a consolation goal.
After all, Copenhagen did beat Manchester United 4-3 at home in qualifying from Group A while they also toppled Galatasaray 1-0 on their own patch and pushed Bayern close in a 2-1 defeat.
Those performances, along with a goalless draw against Bayern at the Allianz Arena and a slender 1-0 loss to United at Old Trafford, highlight their capabilities and should make them seriously competitive.
City conceded in five of their six group-stage wins, which includes in each of their three road trips at Leipzig, Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade.
The Citizens have also conceded in 10 of their 12 Premier League away games this term and, while they should take a first-leg lead back to the Etihad, a clean sheet may evade them.
Erling Haaland to score two or more goals - 5/2
When these two met in the group stage of last season’s Champions League, Haaland wreaked havoc in the opening fixture at the Etihad, netting a first-half brace in a 5-0 rout.
The Norwegian phenomenon only returned from a six-week injury with a 19-minute cameo from the substitute bench in a 3-1 win over Burnley at the end of January, but is already back among the goals.
In what was only his second start since 6th December, Haaland was twice on target in City’s 2-0 win at home to Everton on Saturday and he could repeat the trick against Copenhagen.
The 23-year-old has bagged eight braces in 29 appearances for club and country this season, which includes twice in the Champions League, and he makes plenty of appeal at 5/2 to score two or more again.
Over 6.5 Manchester City corners – 5/6
Manchester City are expected to dominate this last-16 first-leg encounter with Copenhagen and, with plenty of goals forecast, they should rack up plenty of corners.
In City’s last eight games they have had at least seven corners, with their last three away trips to Brentford, Tottenham and Newcastle seeing them yield 13, 14 and 13.
The perfectionist that is Guardiola, he will want this two-legged encounter settled in Denmark and their attacking gems should force plenty of saves from the home keeper.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.