The champions of England face Ajax on Tuesday and simply must beat their Dutch opponents to stand any chance of further progress, although fixtures against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund look very difficult.
The latter teams face each other at the Bernabeu, with Real looking to bounce back from their defeat in Germany, while Arsenal travel east to face Schalke after losing 2-0 to the same team at the Emirates a fortnight ago.
Manchester City v Ajax 19:45
This might be a must-win game for City but it doesn’t necessarily mean they will claim the three points against a team that won 3-1 a fortnight ago against the same opponents. Mancini indicated his troubled state of mind when asked about the Monaco job in a press conference all appears to be not well at the Etihad Stadium.
The bookies make the home team strong favourites at 9/20 (BetVictor free bets) to win the game although they are not the same side without an in-form and fit David Silva and could well have lost at Upton Park on Saturday before coming away with a goalless draw.
Mancini left Sergio Aguero on the bench last weekend which means the Argentine is nailed-on to start this crunch clash and he can be backed at 9/2 (Paddy Power) to score first although the forward has hardly been prolific this term and perhaps the smarter money is on Carlos Tevez at 4/1.
As for Ajax, they will themselves feel there is a chance of going through if they can somehow sneak a win in this match, with Borussia Dortmund still to visit the Amsterdam Arena during the group stage. The visitors can be backed at a beefy 7/1 to do the double over their opponents who are going to be feeling all the pressure in this contest.
Ajax are not pulling up any trees in the Dutch League at the moment and a 2-0 reverse at home to Vitesse Arnhem suggests either some poor form or the fact that they are distracted by this upcoming match although this is perhaps the game where City show their class.
Schalke 04 v Arsenal 19:45
Wins against Montpellier and Olympiacos suggested that Arsenal would comfortably qualify for the last sixteen of the Champions League although they hit the buffers against Schalke a fortnight ago and another defeat could see them scrapping to get out of Group B.
Arsene Wenger’s side looked defensively vulnerable on Saturday at Old Trafford and face a similar test of their rearguard at the Veltins-Arena against a team who have seven points from their first three group games and were value for their win at the Emirates.
The German side are no bigger than 10/11 (Paddy Power free bets) to stand on the verge of that knockout stage, with Huub Stevens’ team also going well in the Bundesliga even if their latest game saw Die Königsblauen beaten 3-2 at Hoffenheim.
Home form has been a different story and Schalke boast a predator in the form of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who has scored eight goals this season and might be another Dutch thorn in the side of the Gunners who saw Robin van Persie score against them on Saturday.
Nevertheless, we shouldn’t write off an Arsenal side that possess some quality players and have a lot of experience in the Champions League, with the north London team having won at Borussia Dortmund in the group stage last season and they are a big price to do the same on Tuesday night.
Stan James offer 7/2 about the Gunners who have won at Liverpool and West Ham this term although goals are now in short supply and an injury to Gervinho doesn’t help matters. Perhaps Lukas Podolski can shine on his return to Germany and the forward is a 10/1 shot to score first.
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund 19:45
Roberto Mancini might be publicly writing off Manchester City’s chances of reaching the last sixteen although the Italian will be hoping that Real Madrid can win Tuesday night’s match against Dortmund which might make their task of qualifying a little easier.
The Spanish champions were warm favourites to win at Signal Iduna Park a fortnight ago before losing 2-1 although they will expect three points in the reverse fixture and will be many people’s banker at 1/2 (Blue Square bookmaker) even if Borussia are sure to make life difficult for Real.
Jose Mourinho’s men sit third in La Liga although they are scoring goals for fun at the moment, with 13 netted in the last three matches and they steamrollered Zaragoza 4-0 at the weekend which was unusual in the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t manage to find the net.
The hotshot is 3/1 (Coral) to score the first goal of this match against a team that were thwarted by Stuttgart at the weekend although they played Manchester City off the park at the Etihad Stadium and will look to exploit their opponents on the break in this game.
Dortmund are as big as 7/1 (William Hill bookmaker) to complete a double over their opponents and take firm control of their qualifying prospects in Group D.