Marseille’s hopes of qualifying for the round of 16 took a huge blow when they fell to defeat in Greece last week. In a group containing Manchester City, there is now a very good chance that they will now get no more than nine points and history tells us that that is very rarely enough to progress to the knockout stages.
They have made a decent start to life in Ligue 1, but could very easily find themselves with a mountain to climb in Europe with no points after two games.
City, for their part, have not set the world alight this season and their lacklustre performances seem to have carried over from last year. They haven’t reached the same heights that they did between 2017-2019 when they played with an unmatched swagger and verve, but they should have far too much for Marseille.
This is a dream group for City and, with fixtures set to mount in November and December, Pep Guardiola will be keen to wrap it up as quickly as possible. They should sweep Marseille aside in France and take a giant step towards the knockout stages.
For the first time in a long time, City look close to misfiring up front and look short of a striker or two. Sergio Aguero is obviously world-class, but the Argentinian striker is injured more often than not and often finds himself playing second fiddle to Gabriel Jesus when he is fit.
Jesus, meanwhile, is simply not good enough to lead the City line on a consistent basis, while Riyad Mahrez doesn’t look capable of scoring more than 20 goals a season. The bulk of the goalscoring responsibility at City, therefore, falls onto the shoulders of Raheem Sterling, who has started the season reasonably well in front of goal.
The English forward has four goals to his name already this season, more than anyone else at the club.
His record in the Champions League group stages is excellent, and he has scored almost all of his European goals at this stage of the competition. At even money, he is good value to find the back of the net on Tuesday.
If Marseille’s performance against Olympiakos was anything to go by, they will struggle to score against a gradually improving City defence on Tuesday night. The French side mustered just two shots on target and will be coming up against a rejuvenated City defence that has leaked far fewer goals since the humiliation at home to Leicester before the international break.
The return of Aymeric Laporte and the signing of Ruben Dias have bolstered City’s ranks at the bank and they will be targeting a clean sheet in France this week. Marseille have only scored 11 goals in Ligue 1 this season, the joint-worst goalscoring record in the top-six, and the 4-1-4-1 approach that they employed against Olympiakos will be simply too conservative to hurt City.
* All odds correct at time of first publishing but may change. Prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets.
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