Manchester City are leading their tie against PSG ahead of the second leg on Tuesday. Tom Carnduff has three best bets.
1pt Marco Verratti to have 1+ assists at 15/2 (Betfair)
1pt Neymar to have 1+ assists at 5/1 (Betfair)
1pt Neymar and Kyle Walker to be carded at 18/1 (bet365)
Among all the Premier League titles and domestic cup success, the Champions League has been the one trophy that has evaded Manchester City - it's also the one that has been their main aim throughout.
The same can be said for PSG, who find themselves in a very similar situation to City. Heavy investment has brought success in France but they have been unable to win this tournament. They need to overturn a 2-1 deficit if they are to avoid yet more disappointment.
For City, holding onto their aggregate lead will mean a first appearance in the Champions League final. They also have the advantage of two away goals. Whatever happens, as the first leg highlighted, we're set for entertainment and the desperate situation of the last few minutes may well provide some drama too.
It's a tough ask for PSG to go and turn this result around against arguably the best team in Europe. City will secure the Premier League title once again while the Parisians' fortunes in their own domestic league haven't matched that of Tuesday's opponents.
They're in a battle with Lille at the top of Ligue 1, but even with the league title still up for grabs, the priority will be to win the Champions League. City have shown that they can be beaten though and the blistering pace of the PSG counter attack can cause issues.
They also dominated the first-half of their contest last week. They collapsed in the second, as much as City were more positive in their approach. Slack defending combined with an almost 'heads gone' attitude led to them losing that contest and they need to be switched on for the full 90 minutes here.
PSG should score, BTTS is as short as 1/2 in places, while Sky Bet offer 4/11 on the away side getting at least one here. As expected, the usual suspects in their forward line are short prices to score but there is some good value on offer in the assists market.
The first of which is a player that they will need to be on it for the full game, as he was for large parts of the first leg. Given his record and statistics so far this season, it's a surprise to see Betfair offering odds as big as 5/1 on NEYMAR TO HAVE 1+ ASSISTS in this contest. He got two in the 3-2 away win at Bayern Munich in the last round.
The availability of Kylian Mbappe will be key to their progression chances, with the forward missing the game at the weekend amidst reports he hadn't trained. He is a part of the travelling squad though and the connection with Neymar will be how they expose the City back line.
That's easier said than done but PSG have the quality to do just that. They ripped apart Bayern and Barcelona in the round before that - remarkably securing a 4-1 win against the latter without Neymar and Angel Di Maria at the Camp Nou.
So why Neymar in the assists market? Well there's a case for either him or Mbappe, but the showings from Neymar when he's been available for PSG give hope to an assist coming here. He leads the way for key passes in this squad in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League.
He should have more than the ten assists he has in 26 appearances across all competitions. That is a big point to remember as well, an assist coming every 2.6 games despite a campaign disrupted by injury. Three key passes per game in the league and two per 90 in Europe shows how creative he has been for PSG.
Infogol's statistics also highlight how his Expected Assists (xA) figure is higher than his actual assists tally in both major competitions. In a game that should bring goals, as it did in the first leg, Neymar should not be as big as 5/1 for an assist in this game.
Sticking with the same market, I'm willing to back the 15/2 available again with Betfair on MARCO VERRATTI TO HAVE 1+ ASSISTS. This isn't to say that PSG will definitely score two, but those two prices are bigger than what I'd expect them to be.
Verratti isn't as prolific in terms of assists as Neymar but his stats outweigh his actual assists tally. He has six across all competitions and two of those have come in the Champions League. The midfielder is averaging 1.1 key passes per game in Ligue 1 and 1.5 per game in Europe.
He should stick to the attacking midfield area here but it isn't an issue if he does drop deeper into a central midfield role. Both of his assists in this competition came from a deeper position while he got an assist playing AM against Lyon in the league - a game that also brought two key passes with it.
Verratti has registered at least one key pass in all five Champions League starts this season too. PSG know their situation and that they need to score twice to stand any chance of progression. Verratti is often a player to look at in the cards market, with a short 13/8 the best available in the early pricing, but he does provide value in the assists.
The referee for this one is Bjorn Kuipers, a favourite of UEFA who has been given a number of games in Europe's top competition this season. He's not necessarily the strictest, although does show cards when needed, but the PSG factor and their position in the game should lead to some cautions being dished out.
It does depend on the flow of the game, but after a 14/1 winning Joao Cancelo/Idrissa Gueye card double in the first leg, it's a market I'm willing to explore again. The one double I did have an eye on in the last game was NEYMAR AND KYLE WALKER TO BE CARDED and it was one that was unlucky not to win.
Neymar was booked as the game entered the last 15 minutes, the point where PSG were starting to lose all focus, while Walker was very fortunate to avoid a card. He struggled to deal with the pace of the attack against him - Walker finished the game with three fouls.
He's only seen a higher tally in one game this season, that being the home draw with Liverpool (5), and he should see a similar figure here as City look to keep the talented PSG front line quiet.
There is some uncertainty surrounding the outright result in this one. PSG have the talent to overturn the result but attitude may be a concern. As much as there is value on offer, it may be worth swerving the result markets and instead stick with NEYMAR, VERRATTI and WALKER to provide the better odds.
Score prediction: Manchester City 1-1 PSG (Sky Bet odds: 7/1)
Odds correct at 1430 BST (03/05/21)
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