Manchester City v Schalke: Half success no 50-50 shot
Manchester City will bid to book Champions League quarter-final place on Tuesday and Andy Schooler is backing them to win both halves against Schalke.
"City have won both halves in 15 of their 23 home games this season. Most recently it’s occurred in six of their last nine at the Etihad."
Manchester City v Schalke
Live on BT Sport 2
Key defensive men missing for City
It's the usual Manchester City problem for punters ahead of this game - where's the angle about a team expected to dominate?
The Quadruple-chasing hosts have won 16 and lost only one of their last 18 matches. And the one they drew was the Carabao Cup final, which they won on penalties.
The first leg of this Champions League last-16 tie was among the successes, City winning 3-2 thanks to a late Raheem Sterling goal.
They had trailed 2-1 until the 85th minute which suggests Schalke were a tad unfortunate to lose but that would be stretching it a bit.
City looked in control until a controversial penalty award and they went down to 10 men in the second. However, even with a man short they still enjoyed more of the play and a defeat would have been harsh on them.
A chink of hope for Schalke, whose only two shots on target that night were from the penalty spot, is that both Nicolas Otamendi (the man sent off three weeks ago) and Fernandinho are suspended for this one, while John Stones and Kevin de Bruyne are nursing injuries.
The good news for City is that Aymeric Laporte was fit enough for the bench at the weekend when City beat Watford 3-1.
That was their third straight win in the Premier League since the first leg. They've also won the Carabao Cup in that period, with just one goal conceded in those four games.
Such form contrasts somewhat with that of their visitors.
The Germans have lost all three Bundesliga games in the interim period, conceding no fewer than 10 goals. All three games came against mid-table opposition too.
That run has continued a miserable season, one which sees them sitting 14th in the table, just four points above the relegation zone.
With that in mind, it's not hard to envisage Saturday's home game with Leipzig being their priority, if not before kick-off, then certainly if they find themselves a goal or two down at the Etihad.
They do at least have some players who missed the first leg back. Striker Breel Embolo has returned after a long-term injury and he scored twice on Friday night against Werder Bremen; midfielder Omar Mascarell, once of Derby, is available again after being suspended in Gelsenkirchen; and ex-Spurs man Benjamin Stambouli is another who is fit again.
Still, the markets give Schalke next to no chance of pulling off the turnaround - they are out at [44.0] to qualify for the quarter-finals.
In the second-leg match betting, they are available at [23.0], with City [1.18] to add another win to their tally. The draw is [9.0].
In that market, City are acca fodder at best. It's a familiar picture, as is the over 2.5 goals market with the over option trading at just [1.43], under being a [3.2] shot.
The 3.5 goal line has become the norm with Guardiola's men and it's [2.04] over and [1.89] under here.
But none of these makes particular appeal.
So where is that angle I first alluded to?
If he starts, there has to be an approach around Gabriel Jesus given he's scored 10 goals in his last seven starts.
The Brazilian is 13/5 to score two or more and 3/1 to be the first goalscorer and with Sergio Aguero a booking away from missing the first leg of any quarter-final, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in from the off. However, at this stage it's far from certain so on we go.
Some will like the 23/10 about City failing to score in the first half given it's happened in their last four games.
However, that dodgy Schalke defence seems likely to creak open under pressure here, even if they adopt the sit-in approach that Watford and Bournemouth have made against City in the past couple of weeks. In any case, there seems little point in employing such tactics given they need to score at least twice.
City ain't half hot
It is with this in mind that I turn to the even-money quote about City winning both halves.
They may have found teams tough to break down in the early stages of late, but Schalke look incapable of keeping things tight - they now conceded at least three goals in five of their last six matches - and need to come out to some extent to stand any chance of making the next round.
City have won both halves in 15 of their 23 home games this season. Most recently it's occurred in six of their last nine at the Etihad.
The somewhat strange circumstances and eventual scoreline in the first leg masked a strong performance by City and as long as they keep 11 men on the field this time around, I'd expect them to prove there's a gulf in class between these two teams.
Same Game Multi
The 9/1 about Breel Embolo scoring at any time catches the eye given he's likely to be leading the attack of a team which needs goals if they are to stand a chance of progressing in the competition.
The Swiss international bagged two at the weekend, is arguably his side's most likely scorer and City have conceded in eight of their last 14 games at home.
I'll speculatively double that with over 2.5 goals in the game, a combination which results in a price of 17.49.
Three of Schalke's last four goals in the Champions League have been penalties by Nabil Bentaleb, who could be only the second player to score a penalty in three straight Champions League appearances within the same season after Thomas Muller in the 2014-15 campaign should he score from the spot again here.
Andy Schooler's P/L 2018/19