Steaua Bucharest v Man City: Citizens backline likely to be breached

Pep Guardiola has made a winning but far from flawless start to life in the Man City dugout
Pep Guardiola has made a winning but far from flawless start to life in the Man City dugout
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Michael Lintorn expects City to win in Romania, but isn't convinced that they will keep a clean sheet...

"Man City didn’t shut out a single foe on their 2015/16 Champions League travels despite progressing to the semi-finals."

Back both teams to score and Man City to win @ 3.39/4

Steaua Bucharest 7.613/2 v Man City 1.51/2; The Draw 4.84/1
Tuesday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 2

Steaua Bucharest

Unlike Manchester City, Steaua Bucharest have experienced the thrill of being champions of Europe, but their fleeting moment as the continent's finest occurred 30 years and, since reaching the final again three years later, they haven't stuck around past Christmas once in the competition.

In recent campaigns, the preliminaries have proven to be their ceiling, with Ludogorets wiping them out at this stage two years ago and Partizan picking them off a round earlier last term.

Things look slightly more promising this summer since taking two players - Fernando Boldrin and William - off champions Astra Giurgiu though: the Liga I runners-up top the domestic standings after three straight victories and got past Sparta Prague 3-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.

Man City

Instant perfection was never a realistic expectation of Pep Guardiola's Man City given that they finished last season 15 points off the Premier League title-winning pace in fourth and focussed primarily on signing talented youngsters with no English football experience in the transfer window.

Their opening-day offering reflected that as they impressed sporadically against Sunderland and at times threatened to coast to the three points, yet ultimately relied on an early penalty and late own goal to prevail 2-1 against opponents who were thrashed 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium in December.

Injuries as well as transition are responsible for any brittleness, with Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane not yet ready to debut and Vincent Kompany on the sidelines again. Nicolas Otamendi is expected to be fit enough to start, potentially ending the experiment of Aleksandar Kolarov at centre back.

Also of interest is whether any of Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Eliaquim Mangala and Joe Hart are brought in from the cold in searing Bucharest. The former four weren't even on the bench for the clash with Sunderland, while the one-time undisputed first-choice goalkeeper was an unused substitute.

Match Odds

Steaua Bucharest have a great record against English guests in Europa League action, beating Chelsea in 2012/13, holding Liverpool in 2010/11 and 2003/04, overcoming Middlesbrough in 2005/06 and conquering Aston Villa, West Ham and Southampton between 1997 and 2003.

However, they are found wanting at the highest level, experiencing defeat 1-0 against Arsenal in the 2007/08 Champions League group stage and 4-0 at the feet of Chelsea the last time they got that far three years ago.

That explains why, despite impressive home qualifying figures since 2005 of P16 W11 D4 L1, they are 7.613/2 to make it a dozen on this occasion, with the Citizens 1.51/2 favourites to inflict a second loss.

In the Romanian club's favour, Guardiola was felled 1-0 in his only previous away Champions League qualifier by Wisla Krakow, but there were a few asterisks at play there: it was eight years ago, it was his Champions League initiation as a coach - he has since reached seven semi-finals in seven seasons - and his Barcelona side were already 4-0 up on aggregate!

A far more telling statistic is that the Catalan tactician has won the first away game of his past four continental challenges, the majority of which appeared more daunting than this. His Barcelona squad thumped BATE Borisov 5-0 in 2011/12, while he oversaw Bayern Munich triumphs over Man City (3-1), CSKA Moscow (1-0) and Olympiakos (3-0).

Both Teams to Score

The leak against Sunderland made it five competitive games without a clean sheet for Man City since the start of May, while they didn't shut out a single foe on their 2015/16 Champions League travels despite progressing to the semi-finals. In total, they have gone seven without one abroad and obtained just one in 13 attempts.

Steaua Bucharest have found the net in their latest six Champions League encounters as hosts and haven't fired a blank in any of their six fixtures to date this term, so both teams to score seems a smart bet at 2.111/10, as does the combination of that with a Citizens win at 3.39/4.

Recommended Bets:

Back both teams to score @ 2.111/10
Back both teams to score and Man City to win @ 3.39/4

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