When the two sides met in the first leg at the Etihad, defending was very much an optional extra. Monaco established a seemingly insurmountable two-goal lead, and again led 3 – 2, before conceding three times, without answer.
It was helter-skelter football; hugely entertaining for the fans, diabolical from a managers’ perspective.
Goals are expected in the Principality but the same again? Lightning doesn’t strike twice, surely? Manchester City are in a difficult position; the Monegasques three away goals mean 2 – 0, 3 – 1 or even 4 – 2 will be enough to see the Ligue Un leaders through to the last eight.
Since the first leg, City have kept three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, which suggests they are more than capable of closing out this tie while Monaco have netted twelve times in their four games! No-one can say with any certainty which team has the edge.
Let’s just hope the second leg lives up to the expectations created by the first!
If anyone expected Monaco to suffer shellshock after the first leg, they were sadly mistaken. Leonardo Jardim’s men went back to domestic football and it was quickly clear that it was business as usual.
Going into the match, Jardim is without Boschilla and Carrillo due to injury while Karmil Glik is suspended. Good news comes with the return of Jemerson, who should slot into the centre of defence, and Joao Moutinho is ready to start.
However, Bakayoko and Fabinho are Jardim’s preferred midfield partnership and it seems unlikely Moutinho will be anything other than a substitute for these second leg.
While Monaco are in good form with just the defeat to City and draw in Bastia interfering with a run of eight wins in ten, only three of those victories have been by a margin which would see them through in this tie.
Goals are not an issue but clean sheets are; just 7 in the last twenty games offer City hope that they can score. One goal for the visitors might prove enough to see them through.
Monaco on the other hand, will point to their home record of 5 clean sheets in the last six matches! It’s just one of the many apparent contradictions in this match!
Crucially, Monaco has scored in every home match this season, scoring more than once on 19 occasions.
Manchester City go into the second leg as favourites to win on aggregate. If the first match three weeks ago, is anything to go by, nerves will be frayed by the time the final whistle is blown!
Pep Guardiola has no new injuries worries or suspensions to contend with for this match. Indeed, Vincent Kompany may return to the bench to give the Spaniard defensive quality as a back-up.
In five of their last seven games, City have kept clean sheets and that will be their biggest issue in the Stade Louis II. Monaco shredded their back four for the first hour, and could quite easily have scored more before the final whistle.
Guardiola though, has seen his side lose since mid-January when Everton destroyed them 4 – 0. Since then, they have moved into a strong position for the fight with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and last weekend, qualified for the FA Cup semi-finals, where they will face Arsenal at the end of April.
In their last two away games – at Sunderland and Middlesbrough – City thrived on the counter-attack with Sergio Aguero scoring in both, making it 5 in his last 6 matches. However, Guardiola has form in dropping the Argentinean international for tough European away games. Will he be tempted to do the same here, even though City may need goals?
City’s away record in this year’s competition isn’t good but it is good enough to see them qualify if they repeat those results: 2 draws and a defeat in Barcelona. They will be wary of Monaco’s attack with neither Claudio Bravo or Willy Caballero looking particularly confident in goal at the moment.
FORM (Last six games)
Monaco - DLWWWW
Manchester City - DWWWDW
- 12 of Monaco’s last 15 Champions League games have featured +2.5 goals.
- Manchester City has kept 8 clean sheets in their last 10 games.
- 9 of Monaco’s last 10 games in all competitions have featured +2.5 goals.
- Manchester City’s last 4 away games all featured * Monaco has kept 5 clean sheets in their last 6 home games in all competitions.
CURRENT MATCH ODDS (BEST PRICED ODDS)
HEAD TO HEAD
The two sides met for the first time in a competitive match at the Etihad three weeks ago.
Both sides can take hope from the pre-match omens. Pep Guardiola has never lost a Round of Sixteen tie in the Champions League as a manager while Monaco has never lost a Champions League knockout tie against a Premier League club. Something must give!
City’s weakness is their defence, as is Monaco’s. The French side must win by two and ideally with a clean sheet to make their lives easier. Monaco’s home record against English clubs is generally good with only Arsenal and Leeds United (1995 in the UEFA Cup) winning here. Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and earlier his season, Tottenham Hotspur, all failed to win here.
However, the most influential aspect of the game is that City can lose and progress. If they score first or don’t let Monaco establish a two-goal bridgehead before netting, then as the game progresses, the French club’s urgency to find the net could leave City with gaps.
MY RECOMMENDED BETS
Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account