Manchester City v Olympiakos: Expect substance but no sparkle

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker
Manchester City's defence is compensating for a lack of sparkle at the back

Manchester City have a 100% record so far in the Champions League, and Kevin Hatchard expects that to continue with an unspectacular win over Olympiakos.

"Olympiakos are a hardy bunch who will look to dig in, and without Sergio Aguero, City aren't pulverising teams in the way they usually do."

Back Manchester City/Under 3.5 Goals at 2.3211/8

Manchester City v Olympiakos
Tuesday 03 November, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 3

Pragmatic Pep keen to lock down last-16 spot

With a huge game against title rivals Liverpool on the horizon, it must be tempting for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola to field a heavily rotated side against Olympiakos, but the Catalan coach insists he'll field as strong a team as possible. That does make sense - a win would take City onto nine points and leave them on the cusp of qualifying for the last 16. Guardiola could then truly start to rest players in the group stage.

City had a few scares against Porto on Matchday One, but their quality eventually shone through in a 3-1 win, and then a timid and unambitious Marseille barely laid a glove on them last week. City were able to cruise to a 3-0 victory at the Stade Velodrome, although it took longer than Guardiola would have liked to kill the match off.

The absence of strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus is being keenly felt, and Guardiola's side haven't been as sparkling in attack as they would like, but a defensive improvement has offset that drop in production. Ruben Dias is settling in well after his move from Benfica, and Kyle Walker (who scored the winner in the weekend's 1-0 success at Sheffield United) is playing superbly.

Ferran Torres has scored in both Champions League games so far, and he might be deployed against as a false nine. Fernandinho and Benjamin Mendy are expected to miss the game with injury.

Olympiakos in the mix for qualification

Manchester City were always likely to win this section of the group stage, but the battle to qualify for the knockout phase with them is fascinating. Greek champions Olympiakos stunned Marseille with a 1-0 win that featured a last-gasp goal, and then they hung in there at the Dragao before eventually tumbling to a 2-0 defeat at Porto.

The problem for coach Pedro Martins is that his side simply doesn't play well enough away from home in this competition. They have lost four of their last five away games in the Champions League, and last term they lost all three of their road matches in the group stage by a two-goal margin. You have to go back five years for their last away win at this stage of European football's top competition.

Olympiakos made chances at Porto, but failed to take them. Veteran striker Youssef El Arabi has been banging in goals in the Greek Super League, including a hat-trick against Atromitos, but a goal in the qualifiers against Omonia remains his only successful strike in Europe this term. Ahmed Hassan, who scored the winner against Marseille, is pushing hard for a start.

City to win, but don't expect a show

The hosts should win this, but they aren't quite clicking in attack in the way that they'd want to, and if they take control of this game they may ease off long before full time. Olympiakos under Martins are a hardy bunch, and they've managed clean sheets in eight of their last ten games in all competitions. The race for second might be very tight, so the Greek outfit will be conscious of avoiding an absolute hammering.

I'll use the Sportsbook's Same Game Multi to double up a City win with an Under 3.5 Goals bet here at 2.3211/8. Only one of City's last seven games in all competitions have featured four goals or more.

Torres to find the net?

Ferran Torres showed plenty of promise at Valencia, and although the 20-year-old is yet to score in the Premier League, he has found the net in both UCL games. With Aguero and Jesus out, Torres is an option as a false nine. Keep an eye on the team news, and if Torres starts, back him to score at 6/4.

On the Olympiakos side of things, Youssef El Arabi is 11/4 to score at any time.

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