Pep Guardiola has often been criticised for over thinking things when it comes to the knockout stages of the Champions League. It’s nine years since he got his hands on the famous trophy and some high profile defeats have led some to suggest that there is something about the tournament that leads to Guardiola losing his tactical acumen on the big stage.
Those critics were getting ready to sing a familiar tune on Wednesday night when Man City went 1-0 down after Guardiola named a team that nobody had predicted. It was Guardiola who very much had the last laugh though as City turned the match and the tie on its head, coming back to earn a 2-1 win.
City’s win was especially important given the ban that UEFA handed out recently and the fact that they have been out of the running for the Premier League title for some time now. It also sets them up very nicely indeed ahead of Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Aston Villa.
Villa to Fall Short
The EFL Cup has provided Aston Villa fans with some welcome relief from their Premier League campaign. The Villains are deep in the mire of a relegation battle having lost their last three matches but the EFL Cup has brought the best out of them this season.
Sunday’s final doesn’t just give Villa and their fans a chance to forget about the rigours of the league campaign. It is also a chance to get their hands on some silverware even if the bookies do not rate their chances of doing so at all.
You’ll find betting odds of 10/1 on Aston Villa lifting the EFL Cup which is huge given that this is a one-off match between two Premier League teams. There are, however, many reasons for Manchester City’s billing as the strong favourites.
For a start, City have won the EFL Cup in three of the last four seasons. Then there’s that incredible performance at the Bernabeu and the 6-1 thrashing City handed out to Villa just last month.
Aston Villa enjoyed their last trip to Wembley when they beat Leeds in the playoff final but they are almost certain to fall short this time. Man City have an incredible recent record at the national stadium and should win the 2020 EFL Cup final comfortably so back them with a two-goal handicap applied at 13/10 with Betfair.
De Bruyne to Carry City Over the Line
The biggest concern that Man City have about their impending ban from UEFA is that their best players will decide it is best for their career to move on. Kevin De Bruyne is one of those players who has been linked with a move away from the club which is a frightening proposition given that he is arguably City’s most important player.
It’s not just the Belgian’s technical abilities that City would struggle to replace but his influence both on and off the pitch. De Bruyne is a very demanding player who expects his teammates to live up to the same high standards that he sets which is priceless to a manager like Guardiola.
De Bruyne proved his importance once again at the Bernabeu in midweek and can set the tempo for Man City in another big match on Sunday by scoring the game’s first goal a 7/1 with bet365.
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