James Cormack (@jamesxyyx) previews FC Schalke 04 v Manchester City and provides us with his best bets for the first leg of this Champions League round of 16 tie by analysing team news, potential line-ups, head-to-head, key stats and facts and more.
- 2019 Profit & Loss: -3.88pts
Schalke v Manchester City Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
- Date: 20/02/19
- Time: 20:00
- Venue: Veltins-Arena
- Channel: BT Sport 2
Manchester City will be looking to begin the Champions League knockout stages in style as they take on a Schalke side that currently sit 14th in the Bundesliga.
Guardiola didn’t have it all his own way in the group stages, losing at home to Lyon on matchday 1 and only picking up a point when the two sides met in France. Nevertheless, they were able to top the group and were rewarded with arguably the easiest tie they could have got. Schalke were able to get through what some would say was a ‘Europa League standard’ group, finishing 2nd to Porto.
Despite both qualifying to the knockout stages, the domestic form of both these sides has been rather drastically different. After finishing a comfortable 2nd in last season’s Bundesliga, Schalke currently sit just 8 points off the relegation playoff place. It’s clear that they haven’t coped with the loss of Leon Goretzka, who moved to Bayern on a free last summer and is also proving his worth in Munich, winning Player of the Month for January.
Players that were brought in to fill the void left by Goretzka such as Sebastien Rudy and Suat Serdar have struggled to adapt to life at the club, the latter being sent off in Schalke’s game against Freiburg on Saturday.
As for Man City, well they certainly haven’t had it all plain sailing in the Premier League this season with a new challenger emerging. City do sit top of the table but only on goal difference, with Liverpool also having a game in hand. Despite Liverpool having the chance to go three points clear after the next round of league fixtures, it’s hard to bet against the reigning Champions.
It seems like they have hit another gear as of late; cruising against Arsenal and Everton by two-goal margins before a 6-0 demolition of Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, with Sergio Aguero scoring hat-trick’s in two of those games. The performance against Chelsea has really set the tone for the remainder of the season and it doesn’t look like they’re going to slow down anytime soon, it’s all on Liverpool to keep up.
After beating Newport on the weekend in the 5th round of the FA Cup, the quadruple is certainly a possibility. Let’s look at all four competitions: 1. Premier League- above^^, 2. Carabao Cup- face Chelsea in the final next week, 3. FA Cup- progressed to quarter-finals, Man Utd/Chelsea only top 6 club that remains, 4. Champions League- bookies favourites, gained some experience, other giants seemingly showing flaws- I think PSG/ Juventus/ Real Madrid will be biggest challengers.
On paper, it really looks possible, but we all know how much of a challenge it will be in reality. For example, last season City crashed out at the hands of League 1 Wigan in the FA Cup and were blown away by Liverpool in the CL quarter-finals, a Liverpool side that finished 4th in the PL.
The home side come into this one with a long injury list; Embolo (foot), Insua (knee), Mascarell (suspended), Schöpf (knee), Stambouli (broken cheekbone) and Skrzybski (thigh) are all out for this fixture.
The away side are slightly better off on the injury front; club captain Vincent Kompany remains out whilst no.1 left-back Benjamin Mendy is also out with a recurring knee issue.
Potential Schalke Starting XI: Fahrmann, Bruma, Sane, Nastasic , Caligiuri, Rudy, McKennie, Oczipka, Uth, Kutucu, Matondo.
Potential Manchester City Starting XI: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Gundagon, De Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero, B.Silva.
Head To Head
- These two sides have only met once in their history, in a Europa League match in 2008- Man City ran out 2-0 winners.
Key Stats & Facts
- Schalke are unbeaten in nine European home games (W6, D3) and have lost just one of their last 13 (W8, D4).
- City have lost both of their European knockout ties against German opposition, losing the away legs 3-1 at Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hamburg.
- The Manchester club have lost three of their five away legs in the UCL last 16, only winning at Basel and Dynamo Kyiv.
- Schalke academy graduate Leroy Sane made 47 Bundesliga appearances for the club before he made his move to City in 2016.
- Schalke scored only 6 goals in the group stages but only conceding 4.
- In contrary, City were the second leading scorers in the group stages, scoring 16.
- Sergio Aguero is the joint 19th top scorer in CL history; he has 33 goals in 64 CL appearances.
- City have qualified for the CL in the past 8 seasons, reaching the quarter-finals on just 2 occasions.
- Schalke 11/1
- Draw 11/2
- Manchester City 4/13
The stats would suggest that we could be in for a cagey, tight encounter at the Veltins Arena on Wednesday night. Schalke were very stout defensively in the group stages, conceding just 4 goals in their 6 group games. Moreover, the German side have an impressive record on their home turf, losing just once in their last 13 European home games. But, this is undoubtedly one of the worst Schalke sides in recent memory. Long are the days of Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Julian Draxler, Raul, Kevin Kuranyi and of course Leroy Sane. Against sides currently in the top 6 of the Bundesliga, Schalke have a 1-1-7 record so far this season, showing how much they’ve struggled against good opposition. Even with the likes of Bayern and Dortmund in the German top flight, I don’t think Schalke would’ve played a side quite like Manchester City and I can see a drubbing on the cards.
So, for this one I’m going to back City to win this game to nil at 121/100. Schalke have only scored 25 times in the Bundesliga this season and struggled to score in Europe’s elite competition, even though they were part of the worst group of the draw. Many have said that City’s defence is certainly their vulnerability, which is a fair enough comment, but we have seen them go to Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea (at home) and keep a clean sheet, I think they’re capable to hold their own against a poor Schalke attack.
I’m also going to back City to score 3+ goals on Wednesday night. We all know how destructive City can be on their day and I think this game could well be one of those days/nights. This Schalke side doesn’t have a poor defensive record in the Bundesliga (conceding 32 in 22), but have conceded 2 or more in 7/9 games against the top 6 this season. I think they could be overwhelmed by City’s attack that has scored 15 goals in their last 4 games and has scored 3 or more goals in 21 games this season (all comps).