Marseille v Manchester City: Villas-Boas’ tactics set to frustrate Guardiola’s spluttering visitors

Marseille vs Manchester City
Tue, 20:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 2

Aguero and Jesus absent

Marseille ought to be at full strength. Some media reports say manager Andre Villas-Boas may use a three-man defence this season as he attempts to blunt City’s attack.

Manchester City travel to the south of France without injured duo Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. Manager Pep Guardiola will be tempted to employ Raheem Sterling as a false nine again.

Marseille should draw comfort ahead of this game from the ordinariness Manchester City displayed in their 1-1 draw at West Ham at the weekend but Pep Guardiola’s visitors are understandably and deservedly favourites to win at Stade Velodrome on Tuesday night.

Payet and Thauvin key men

City are 4/111.38 to win, with Marseille 17/29.6 and The Draw 9/25.5. It would be no surprise to see City pick up all three points but there are reasons to believe Marseille will make this a tough evening for the Premier League outfit.

Marseille conceded a last-minute winner away to Olympiakos (0-1) in their opening group game last weekend and Villas-Boas was reportedly unhappy with several of the individual performances that he witnessed on the night but l’OM actually matched the Greek champions for much of the game.

Marseille go into this game on the back of consecutive Ligue 1 victories – a hard-earned 1-0 triumph at Lorient at the weekend, and 3-1 at home to Bordeaux the week before – and can field their strongest side.

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In Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin, Marseille have a couple of players that are a notch below City’s best players – or two notches in the case of Kevin de Bruyne – but they’re a pair of experienced campaigners with the skill and class to cause City problems. Their presence on the pitch gives Marseille a chance of competing on level terms for at least some of the game.

Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners at home to FC Porto in their opening group game last weekend but it’s evident to regular City watchers that all’s not well in the camp.

City’s W4-D2-L1 record against top-flight teams in all competitions falls short of the all-conquering form they displayed of a couple of seasons ago and, while it may sound churlish to point out that City have yet to win by more than two goals in this campaign, it’s a valid argument considering how often they blew away the opposition in the not-too-distant past.

Low goals a smart play

Laying City at odds-on will appeal to some although the Asian Handicap market is a potentially smarter way to oppose Guardiola’s visitors. Marseille are available with a +1.5 start at 10/111.9. With this selection you’ll make a profit if Marseille win, the game ends in a draw or Marseille lose by a single goal. Your selection will lose only if City win by two or more goals. For a guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.

Going low on goals is also an appealing proposition. Media reports suggest Villas-Boas might set up his hosts with a back three / back five for the first time in this campaign, making defensive solidity the priority, and in Steve Mandanda l’OM have an experienced goalkeeper in fine form. Seven of Marseille’s nine games in all competitions have featured Under 2.5 Goals this season.

With City lacking Aguero and Jesus there’s no guarantee chances will be taken if and when City create them. Under 2.5 Goals is 7/42.7 and may provide trading opportunities during the game. Under 3.5 Goals is available at 5/71.7. For a guide to trading on Betfair, click here.

Those looking for a speculative selection in the player scoring markets may like to consider Duje Caleta-Car. The Croatia international took time to find his feet on the Canebiere but has emerged as a key player in Villas-Boas’ plans and his aerial prowess will be a key weapon for the hosts. The 24-year-old centre-back has already scored twice in nine Ligue 1 appearances this season, and can be backed at 12/1 To Score (anytime) on the Betfair Sportsbook.

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