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Michael Taylor 30th Nov 2010 - 12:30

If you’re going to feel pity, make it for Salzburg not City

Man City keep struggling along in the Premier League, their latest failure a 1-1 draw at Stoke, but don't expect anything but a stroll when they meet Red Bull Salzburg.

Unlike their namesake Red Bull are not flying, far from it in fact.

In the Europa League they've failed to win a single group stage game while domestically it's not a whole heap better as they continue to play catch up on both Sturm Graz and runaway leaders Ried.

They might head into Manchester on the back of three league wins, and with the best defensive record in the Austrian Bundesliga, but beating one of Europe's biggest spenders probably isn't even on the radar.

The first leg told all you need to know about the difference between the sides as City breezed into the Red Bull Arena and strolled to a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Spanish flop David Silva and Brazilian flop Jo.

It's hardly a surprise given Man City's starting eleven that day cost in the region of £180 million, while Salzburg's record transfer fee is in the region of £3 million.

However, we all know that money doesn't guarantee long term success, what it can do though is ensure you rarely fall foul of minnows like Salzburg.

Roberto Mancini has been widely criticised as City's manager but with the wealth of talent he has to choose from he should realistically be able to put out a reserve team here and still claim the most simple of wins.

Especially when his reserves are multi-million pound signings with international pedigree, such as the likes of Jo, Patrick Vieira and Micah Richards (okay, he was one of the few home grown talents).

The only question for Mancini is whether he wants to go for the kill with a win likely to see the Citizens into the next round (Juventus have to beat Group A leaders Lech Poznan away to remain in contention).

When City travelled to Lech Poznan they brought in the reserves and were subjected to perhaps the most humiliating defeat of their season - losing 3-1 after being dominated for 90 minutes.

Mancini will be desperate to avoid further if he has any sense so I'm fully expecting to see at least a spattering of big hitters like Carlos Tevez and David Silva.

If this is the case then you can expect another tough day at the office for Salzburg keeper Gerhard Trammel and the likes of Rabiu Alofabi and Franz Schiemer in the backline.

Tevez's participation isn't a certainty but if he does start then 2/1 about him grabbing two or more goals is real value - and if he doesn't start the bet is void anyway.

The little Argentine is at the heart and soul of everything City does well and while people around him struggle for consistency, he seemingly brings his best every week.

He's going to be a marked man this Wednesday, as he is in every game, but his work rate and hustle and bustle make him almost impossible to keep tabs on for a full 90 minutes.

Away from him, if we go on the terrific away performance at Fulham two weeks ago, it would appear the Citizens have threats from all areas of the pitch.

Yaya Toure is on big money but if he can continue to make lung busting runs into the box then he's real value at 5-1 to score anytime while 6/4 anytime David Silva looks great given how well he's played in Europe this season.

Obviously it goes without saying that I only see this going one way (City still look a big price at 1/5), but against Salzburg's defensive performance this year I see them being in real danger of a rout.

7/2 buys you Man City with a -3 handicap, 4/6 gets you the home team to score in both halves and 11/5 they score four or more goals - all bets which interest me here.

City may have turned in some laughable performances this season but Red Bull could well be without wings...or a prayer.

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