Manchester City can get off to a great start
Lyon should avoid a pasting
BT Sport 3, 8pm Wednesday
Pep Guardiola has added the English title to those he won in Spain and Germany and now his quest for a long-overdue third Champions League crown starts in earnest.
Manchester City were so impressive in winning the Premier League last season that they have been made favourites for the biggest prize in European club football and the Spaniard can justify that faith in him and his team by opening up with victory over Lyon in Group F.
Guardiola won’t be on the touchline to celebrate – a ban means his right-hand man Mikel Arteta will take charge during the game.
But he should still be all smiles in the directors’ box at the Etihad.
However, a cakewalk isn’t on the cards. All the prices, whatever the market, suggest a hammering of the out-of-form Frenchmen, who qualified for this competition by finishing third in Ligue 1 last season and are currently down in seventh after an indifferent start to 2018-19.
Their coach, Bruno Genesio, is under enormous pressure from club president Jean-Michel Aulas, who has effectively written off his side against City and again when they take on Marseille on Sunday.
Genesio’s days, it seems, are numbered and a thumping won’t help his cause, though that seems unlikely.
Last season in Europe, City were sparing in their tonkings of opponents. Feyenoord and Basel, two inferior sides to Lyon, were on the wrong end of 4-0 defeats and City put four past Napoli in a 4-2 success in Italy.
But their other seven Champions League ties produced three or fewer goals which leads to a bet on City and under 3.5 goals.
That gives us four possible scorelines on our side, three of which City have chalked up in four of their six matches to date; 2-0 wins over Chelsea in the Community Shield and Arsenal in the league, while their last two results have been a 2-1 win against Newcastle and 3-0 versus Fulham.
They are an exceptional attacking force but Lyon won’t come to Manchester to take them on, and for all the gems they have in their ranks the English side definitely miss Kevin De Bruyne. There is also a question mark over top scorer Sergio Aguero’s fitness.
Lyon, a very young side, will still be worried. Jason Denayer, a highly promising centre-back at the Etihad where he couldn’t make a breakthrough, has started the last two games for OL and they are set up to be hard to break down.
That didn’t stop Caen from scoring two against them in a 2-2 draw on Saturday, however.
The biggest disappointment for Lyon this season is Nabil Fekir, a player who wanted a move to Liverpool last month, didn’t get it and has been sulking since.
It means the onus is on Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele, signed from Celtic, to offer a threat in attack. Their chances, however, are likely to be limited.
Manchester City & under 3.5 goals
1pt 13-8 Betway
Kevin De Bruyne is out with a knee injury. Back-up keeper Claudio Bravo is also sidelined. Sergio Aguero, Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph are doubts but Danilo is fit.
Defender Fernando Marcal and young striker Amine Gouiri are injured.
Seven of City’s ten Champions League matches last season produced under 3.5 goals.
Read Racing Post Sport every day for no-nonsense previews and expert sports betting tips
Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport