Guardiola’s side should get the job done, but a clean sheet might be beyond them again.
Manchester City to Win and both teams to score (+188)
|Borussia Dortmund vs Manchester City|
|What||Borussia Dortmund vs Manchester City|
|Where||Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany|
|When||Wednesday, 14 April 2021, 15.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||Paramount+|
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It was closer than Manchester City would have wanted, but their 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of this Champions League quarter-final makes them favorites to advance to the last four of the competition for the first time in the Pep Guardiola era. The City boss is under pressure to deliver in Europe, and there will be no excuses if his team once again bows out before the semi-finals.
Dortmund are a fine side on their day and they will back themselves to find the net in the second leg, just as they did last time out. That might not be enough, though, with City likely to take advantage of a questionable defensive unit. Back the Premier League leaders to win on the night and both teams to score.
Manchester City were the better team at the Etihad Stadium last week, but they very nearly had nothing to show for it. The home side took the lead midway through the first half via Kevin De Bruyne, but their failure to score a second left them in a difficult position with 20 minutes left to play: City knew a second goal would give them some valuable breathing space, but they did not want to take too many risks in search of it in case Dortmund caught them out on the break.
In the end, they were very nearly made to pay for their failure to double their lead. Marco Reus got BVB back on level terms with just six minutes left to play, as City were left to contemplate what would have been a disappointing result in their home leg. It was not over there, though, and in the 90th minute Phil Foden popped up in the penalty area to earn Guardiola’s side a 2-1 victory in the first half of this quarter-final tie.
It is possible to argue that a 2-1 City win was a decent outcome for both sides. The merits of the result are obvious as far as the victors are concerned, but Dortmund scored a crucial away goal which means a 1-0 win on Wednesday would be enough for them to progress.
Even so, City remains favorites to advance. They may have lost 2-1 to a Leeds United team that played most of the match with 10 men at the weekend, but that was the sort of one-off event that can happen in soccer. With a one-goal lead to take to Germany, City should be able to take advantage of a favorable position.
Dortmund are certainly not out of the tie just yet, but it would take a huge effort for them to knock City out from here. Edin Terzic’s side contains plenty of talent, and Dortmund are capable of giving any team in Europe a game on their day. They have proven that against Bayern Munich three times this term, losing 3-2 on two occasions and 4-2 on another, but providing the European champions with a stern test each time.
The problem for Dortmund, as evidenced by those duals with Bayern, is a lack of balance. Their attack can be scintillating, and the probable return to the starting XI of Jadon Sancho on Wednesday will further increase their firepower. The 20-year-old Erling Haaland is arguably one of the top three strikers in the world already, and Reus has proven himself at this level for years. Jude Bellingham, while not strictly an attacking player, showed his quality with a superb first-leg performance in Manchester.
Whether Dortmund are able to score enough goals to turn the tie around while also keeping things tight at the back is another question entirely. They have managed just one clean sheet in their last five Bundesliga matches, and are without a shut-out in their last five games in the Champions League. That does not bode well ahead of another game against City.
The absence of supporters makes Dortmund’s task even harder, and City will attempt to take the sting out of the game with sustained possession in the opening stages. BVB will have to take more risks as time goes on, and City will fancy their chances of picking their opponents off in transition if they have players out of position. For that reason, Guardiola could be tempted to deploy the speedy Raheem Sterling as part of his front three.
Dortmund should have enough quality up front to score, particularly if Sancho is available. Yet it is hard to see them keeping City’s attack quiet, and Guardiola’s side can use their first-leg lead to their advantage.
Another 2-1 City win is a possibility, but the best option from a betting point of view is an away win featuring goals at both ends. Dortmund could yet make this tie very interesting indeed, but their lack of balance and cohesion between attack and defense will ultimately deny them a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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