Champions League previews: Man City v Hoffenheim, Valencia Man Utd

Everything you need to know about Manchester City and Manchester United's upcoming Champions League games

James Piercy

Manchester City and Manchester United secured safe passage into the knockout phase of the Champions League in the last round of fixtures but their respective concluding fixtures are still important for a number of reasons.

Here, we preview the remaining ties featuring the two Premier League giants and why both sides will be going for victory and three points.

Manchester City v Hoffenheim

City are 4.50 with FansBet to win the Champions League this season*

No sport produces constant narratives quite like football and Wednesday’s tie at the Etihad Stadium has a strange and small, but interesting nonetheless, slice of symbolism for one member of the Manchester City squad.

On Monday, 18-year-old attacking midfielder Phil Foden agreed a new six-year contract at his boyhood club, the team he has supported all his life and who gave him his first professional contract and debut.

Foden’s deal was significant because it comes during a time when a former City academy team-mate of his, Jadon Sancho, is starring for Borussia Dortmund, both in the Champions League and Bundesliga, having left the Etihad last summer for more first-team football.

It’s a decision process that may also see Brahim Diaz depart next summer for Real Madrid, meaning City will have lost two of their three best youth talents. Keeping hold of Foden, therefore, has been of paramount importance, not just because of his talent but from a reputational point of view.

Manchester City v Hoffenheim Preview, Betting Tips And Enhanced Odds

Foden is almost certain to start against Hoffenheim having made two substitute appearances in the competition so far and can enable David Silva to have a rest. Even though City are through and Hoffenheim eliminated, it will be fascinating to see how the teenage acquits himself.

With Sergio Aguero likely to remain on the sidelines to ensure he’s 100 per cent fit for the Premier League Christmas period, Gabriel Jesus should start in attack while no Oleksandr Zinchenko or Benjamin Mendy will see Fabian Delph continue at left-back.

But that’s not to say the result isn’t important for Pep Guardiola’s side as they still need to secure first place in the group. City lead Lyon by three points but the Ligue 1 side boast the better head-to-head record.

City therefore may need at least a point to top Group F as should they lose, Lyon can become the first seed in the draw for the last 16 with victory in Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Valencia v Manchester United

United are 34.00 with FansBet to win the Champions League this season*

Marouane Fellaini’s last-minute intervention against Young Boys has ensured this trip to the Mestalla won’t be as uncomfortable as it appeared for 89 minutes of the game at Old Trafford a fortnight ago.

United are through which, given their issues on the field, in the dugout and the strange sense of apathy in the stands, can be seen as an achievement. Yes, they were expected to progress but things could so easily have gone very wrong.

Unlike City, they are not leading their group but with just two points to gain on Juventus, a victory over Valencia coupled with a loss for the Bianconeri in Switzerland against Young Boys would see United emerge as the first seed.

How much of a concern that is to Jose Mourinho will be represented in the XI he selects as there is also an important Premier League game on the horizon with a trip to Anfield on Sunday. Defeat in that will not only be embarrassing but could leave United a mammoth 19 points behind their rivals.

It’s a juggling act but one a club of United’s resources, however poorly distributed, should be able to deal with even though Mourinho has Victor Lindelöf and Alexis Sánchez out until the new year and doubts over Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian and Eric Bailly.

Valencia v Manchester United Preview, Betting Tips And Enhanced Odds

The Paul Pogba question is almost a big of an issue as what sort of team to select at Mestalla. The France midfielder has been left out for United’s last two fixtures and not only have Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera forming an encouraging midfield partnership, Mourinho has dropped several hints in post-match dispatches alluding to Pogba’s lack of desire.

Mourinho has confirmed Pogba will play against Valencia which means there is pressure on the 25-year-old to not just perform but dominate. Whereas once Pogba was a figure for sympathy in his battle with his manager, results in his absence have left fans to question his worth. He needs to once again own the debate.

There is also the strange position of Fred. As one of United’s marquee summer signings the Brazilian midfielder has almost disappeared from view. This could be yet another first-team audition for him.

With Valencia reaffirming their position as Spain’s crisis club amid poor results, supporter anger towards ownership and an increasingly bleak financial outlook, it is a fine opportunity for United to make it six games unbeaten ahead of Liverpool.

*Odds subject to change

Champions League Acca Betting Preview, Tips and Enhanced Odds – Group Stage Round 6 Wednesday


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