by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
March 16th, 2021
Borussia Mönchengladbach at Manchester City F.C.
Spread: City (-1.5, -2); O/U: 3
Moneyline: Gladbach +1100, City -450, Draw +550
Time/Location: 4:00 ET, Puskás Aréna, Budapest, Spain
Gladbach (LLLLL); 10th in Bundesliga
Flatly put, things couldn’t be much worse for Gladbach at the moment. Ever since the announcement that Marco Rose would be leaving the club at the end of the season to take over the Dortmund job, Gladbach have dropped every single fixture, six in a row, including some massively painful losses to Dortmund and Leipzig and some astounding ones to Mainz and Augsburg. In those games Dortmund have scored just four times, but half of those goals came against Manchester City in a 3-2 loss in the reverse fixture of this match. Gladbach aren’t fighting for a European place anymore, they’re struggling to find a path that includes staying in the top half. Not a great look for a Rose, huh? Luckily he’s sorted.
If the German side are to win this match they’ll need to be perfect. Yes, City dropped their perfect run in the Manchester Derby, but Gladbach are dragging in a bad way and will have to be better than they’ve ever been in order to keep in the competition. A high line that keeps Ederson and the center back pairing in their own box will be imperative and allowing Kevin de Bruyne minimal access to the football is key. Keeping the front three on a leash is a must for Nico Elvedi and Matthias Ginter and it’s fair to say that Yann Sommer will need one of the better performances of his long career in between the sticks. Lars Stindl, Marcus Thuram, Alassane Plea, and Jonas Hofmann will all need to be excellent in their control of the City defense and the shots will need to pour on goal. It’s a lot to go right and if it sounds next to impossible, there may be a reason.
Manchester City (WWLWW); 1st in Premier League
The Citizens can’t put this game into cruise control from the start thanks to their suspect defending against die Fohlen, but they’re not too far off. We know they’re more than capable of going goal for goal with the German side so as long as things don’t get out of hand, City will be fine. I assume the game plan is to press hard for an early goal before taking the foot off the gas and just cruising to victory, nothing too complicated. It’s fair to say that City are the best team in club football at the moment after only dropping the Manchester Derby since the turn of the year, so seeing the club go through won’t be a surprise.
I won’t be surprised to see a rotated lineup in this match, one more suited for defensive, possessive football and one that gives some key players a rest after the most gruelling portion of the season. I won’t try to read the mind of Pep Guardiola and predict the lineup, but I expect something that will keep Gladbach frustrated and out of rhythm. Any group of players that City sends out on the pitch is dangerous by definition, but I don’t think the mindset will be too progressive in nature.
Analysis and Pick
As a fan of Gladbach, I’m braced for disappointment today, but even though it’s a bit too early, Pep Guardiola’s sides do have an affinity for crashing out of the competition far earlier than they should. That being said, I don’t see Gladbach having the ability to make anything of this match. Maybe at another point in the season, but with morale and form as low as possible right now, it won’t happen. Think of Manchester City as a pride of lions stalking Gladbach, a sickly and dying antelope. Not much of a challenge, but City is ready for war regardless. I’m going with the game under for this match because I don’t think the opportunity will arise for too many goals. I know Pep has no intentions of losing key players to injury when the Quadruple is still very much in play and the team he will field will be instructed to simply keep the ball out of Gladbach’s possession. They will do as much. Take the under three goals in this match.