The ever-competitive Porto could give Man City a real test here and, at a big price, the hosts are most certainly the bet, says Jamie Pacheco...
"They’ve won six of their last seven at home in the Champions League and part of the reason for that is an extremely high conversion rate."
Porto v Manchester City
Tuesday December 1, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Qualification all but assured for Porto
Like just about every other Portuguese club, Porto's financial situation isn't the best. So, a passage to the Champions League Last 16 and who knows, a couple more rounds after that and the money banked will be absolutely priceless to them. And qualification out of the group looks a given.
A point here or in the last game would do them just fine and they may not even need that. Their current goal difference is +5 and Olympiakos' is -5 so it would require a pretty dramatic turn of events to deny the Portuguese champions a Last 16 spot.
The Dragons fresh from a 1-0 win at Santa Clara at the weekend where striker Luis Diaz got the winner but this is a totally different kettle of fish for them.
Second string City side?
City seem to be a different animal in this competition to the one who's struggled somewhat in the Premier League. I think the reason is very simple: this is a pretty ordinary group they're in and the sides they face in the Premier League week-in-week-out, are stronger than what they're playing against here, bar Porto perhaps.
Not that they struggled in the Premier League at the weekend, of course. Fine finishing from Riyad Mahrez, a masterclass of passing from Kevin de Bruyne and an excellent all-round performance capped with a goal by the returning Benjamin Mendy were some of the highlights of the 5-0 win over a poor Burnley side on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola's team selection might be interesting. They'd need to lose here and have a worse result than Porto in the final game to not win the Group so may be tempted to leave out a few key players with Kevin de Bruyne, Rodri and Kyle Walker among his most overworked men.
Backing a 5.04/1 shot of course means that you only need your bet to come good one in four times to be showing a profit. So, the question is: can we make a case for backing Porto at those odds? I think we can.
They've won six of their last seven at home in the Champions League and part of the reason for that is an extremely high conversion rate. Opta tell us they score from 25.8% of their efforts at goal. Only Monchengladbach are more efficient from among this season's teams.
Of course, these are stats suggesting that's not a great bet. City have only lost once to Portuguese opponents in Europe and Porto are themselves winless in their last five games against English sides.
So City like playing Portuguese sides and Porto don't like playing English ones! Fine, but stats aren't the be-all-and-end-all and at 5.0 you can't expect them all to be pointing towards your wager.
It's 4.03/1 the draw and 1.768/11 the City win.
Phil Foden could be one of the chief beneficiaries from some squad rotation here. Mahrez might get a rest, as might Ferran Torres, giving the youngster a chance to play as one of the two wide forwards in that front three.
This seems to be the season where he's finally considered as important a player as some of his more illustrious team-mates and he's already scored four goals for City across three different competitions, to go with two goals for England in their recent 4-0 win over Iceland. In what could be a high-scoring game, the 5/2 he gets one is decent enough.
At an even bigger price, you can back Sergio Oliveira to get one, too. It's not inconceivable that the game goes by the script (that the odds suggest), City win but Porto get a goal (or two) in the process. Seven goals in 16 games for the season is impressive rather than prolific but wait for the kicker: three of those were in this competition, including a late goal from the spot in their 2-0 win over Marseille last week.
That 4/1 on Oliveira scoring again is too good to turn down.
They love a penalty in a Champions League, do Porto. In four games in Europe this season, they were awarded one in two games (both scored by Oliveira) and gave away one against City in a 3-1 defeat back in late October, which Sergio Aguero dispatched.
Mind you, I think the number of penalties is on the rise irrespective of who's in action, because of VAR.
It's 6/4 that we get one here, 11/2 Porto score one and an interesting 17/2 that City miss one.