A victory over Atalanta at the famous San Siro stadium on Wednesday night would seal Manchester City’s place in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League.
Pep Guardiola’s team have stormed out of the blocks in Europe this season, winning their first three games while only conceding one goal.
Europe’s elite competition has been the trophy that has eluded City so far during this successful period in the club’s history but they are favourites in the eyes of the majority to seal success this year.
The first task along that road will be ensuring they hold a place in the last-16 post-Christmas, which will be achieved if they grab victory over Gian Gasperini’s Atalanta.
City came from behind to see off the Italians in the game at the Etihad stadium a fortnight ago, conceding a penalty to Ruslan Malinovskiy before scoring five to keep up their 100% record in the Champions League this season. You can back them to seal a 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 victory at 4.50*.
A brace from Sergio Aguero and a hat-trick from Raheem Sterling, who is now reportedly being tracked by Real Madrid, put the English champions in a strong position in Group C.
Atalanta, who are playing at the San Siro in Europe due to their own stadium not meeting UEFA’s criteria, face an almighty task to qualify out of the group after losing their first three games.
The Nerazzurri are playing in the competition for the first time in their history but it is looking increasingly likely their maiden season is going to end in failure.
A 4-0 thrashing to Dinamo Zagreb in their first game was followed up by an unlucky late 2-1 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk before the mauling in Manchester.
Gasperini will be satisfied that despite the disappointment in the Champions League, his team have still managed to pick up where they left off in the league last season. Atalanta are currently 5th in Serie A, level on points with 4th-placed Lazio, primed to challenge for continental qualification again this season.
They have lost just twice so far in this campaign, and are the leading scorers in Italy with 30 goals. A repeat of the first leg, City to win but both teams to score can be found at 2.15*.
The Italians can maybe feel downhearted that they find themselves in this position, staring into the abyss of Champions League elimination, especially considering they have shown glimpses of their quality in all three group games so far.
It may not be beyond the realms of possibility that Atalanta pull off a shock in Milan on Wednesday, and City are likely to be missing Rodri and David Silva.
A win in an historic venue will book City a place in the knockout rounds, in what could be a very memorable night for Pep Guardiola’s side.
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