Super Mario can ease pressure on Mancini
Two weeks ago when Man City (4/6) beat Lech Poznan (9/2, the draw is 5/2) everything was looking extremely rosy for Roberto Mancini and his multi-million pound squad.
The Citizens were 2nd in the table and had players such as Shaun Wright-Phillips (10/1 first goal) and Emmanuel Adebayor (4/1) putting in good performances to give good competition for places.
Two defeats followed to mount pressure on Mancini and their star striker Carlos Tevez suffered an injury.
Tevez will miss this trip to Poland, but Mario Balotelli (9/2) should be fit to start for what would be only the second time since his big-money move from Inter Milan.
The Italian would've hoped to have plenty of goals to his name already this season, but an injury suffered on his debut has meant that he's had to sit and watch as Tevez has been banging them in but Adebayor has struggled other than his hat-trick in this fixture two weeks ago.
It depends on what formation Mancini wants to use from now on, but I think that Balotelli can help earn City the points in Poland to qualify for the next round and stake his claim for a place next to Tevez in City's attack; while Adebayor has been over looked, Balotelli is a big favourite of Mancini's so I would be surprised if he persisted with just one out-and-out striker once Tevez and Balotelli are both fully fit.
While undoubtedly the league is the priority, this game is still vitally important for City.
Should they win they can in effect put this competition to bed until the New Year; they will still have two group games to play in December but several of the first team would surely be rested for those matches as they focus on first, trying to cement a place in the top four then second, get back into the title race in time for the January transfer window.
The Blues will want to win this competition (they are 9/2 favourites), as they will every other competition they enter, but they will hope that May 18 in Dublin is the last time they have the Europa League badge on their sleeves and that next season they'll be mixing it with the big boys in the Champions League.
First things first though, and that is trying to beat Lech Poznan on Thursday night.
As well as Tevez, City are also missing the Toure's - Kolo and Yaya, realistically though they shouldn't really feel their loss too much.
While both players are regulars, Poznan just don't have the players to trouble City's back-line. The gulf in class was clear for all to see in the first game and with a run of just one win in their last five league matches I can't see anything other than a City win in this one.
An away victory by 2 goals is an 18/5 shot, but our fantastic Match Winner offer sees us combine Man City and Liverpool both to win by 2 or more goals at a cracking 10/1.
City and Liverpool both have points to prove after some indifferent results recently, and the Blues are sure to be revved up as they back up their support for their manager with a big win on the pitch.
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