Date: 14th March 2017 at 10:35am
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When Pep Guardiola took charge of Manchester City he advised the fans to ‘buckle their seatbelts’ – perhaps he had this sort of match in mind when he did so. After a topsy-turvy but altogether enthralling affair at the Etihad last month the two sides meet again at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday evening for the second leg…who knows which way it will go.

After falling conceding a third away goal the Blues didn’t just roll over, they rolled up their sleeves and showed the sort of resilience and attacking verve that makes fans stand up from their seats and sing ‘Blue Moon’ at the top of their lungs. The Monaco stadium doesn’t have a roof to be raised but with a traditionally small home crowd one can only hope that the magnificent travelling City fans will raise their voices in the Principality on Wednesday evening and make it a night to remember.

Although City have a two goal lead in the tie it feels like it is on a knife edge. Both teams are likely to continue to press forward and Pep Guardiola said almost immediately after the 5-3 victory at home that City would need to score in Monaco. So more goals are almost certainly on the cards…I doubt anyone is going to predict 0-0.

So what permutations are there? (I apologise in advance if I have gotten any of these wrong – despite intensive scribbling on my piece of paper there may have a permutation which escaped me!).

* Any form of draw and any form of City win will see the Blues into the draw for the quarter finals as would a 1-0 home victory for Monaco (4-5 agg).

* Should Monaco score two goals without reply then their name will be in the little football being fondled by some ex-footballer in Nyon on 17th March at 1200CET as their three away goals would send them through.

Things start to get a bit more complicated if there is an uneven score in Monaco’s favour…

* Any score where City are within one goal of the Monegasque and Txiki and Ferran can book their plane tickets ? e.g 2-1 (5-6 agg); 3-2 (6-7 agg)???8-7 (11-12 agg) etc.

* The dangerous scores for City are 3-1 (6-6 agg) or 4-2 (7-7 agg) as in either of these cases the three away goals from the first leg will see Monaco through.

* The only score which can produce extra time and penalties would be a reverse of the first leg – a 5-3 score in favour of Monaco would mean away goals matched by both clubs and the tension continues for a minimum of thirty minutes and the prospect of spot kicks.

* Any result which sees City score 4 goals or more and losing by a two goal margin will still see our beloved Blues over the line due to scoring more away goals.

* Should Monaco win by a margin of 3+ goals (4-1 {7-6 agg}; 5-2 {8-7 agg}) then we are toast.

There. Hope that’s crystal clear…but just in case here’s the quick version.

Draw – Good
City win – Good
City don’t score and lose by 2+ goals – Bad
City lose but only by a single goal – Good
City score 4+ goals but lose only by a 2 goal margin – Good
City score but lose by 3 or more goals – Bad
City lose 5-3 – Tense, nervous headache as extra time and the dreaded penalties loom.

In team news despite the comprehensive kicking meted out to a number of City’s finest during their defeat of Aitor Karanka’s thugs last Saturday City can host a full squad minus the long term absentees. Who knows whether Kompany will be fit?

Monaco will be without the services of Glik who is suspended. His place will be taken by Jemerson. Boschilla and Carillo also miss out.

The French side have won their last four competitive matches whilst City are now unbeaten in eleven games in all competitions.

Guardiola may opt for a slightly more defensive selection despite his statement about City needing to score – he will be well aware of the need to provide more protection to the defence. De Bruyne may drop to the bench with Fernandinho slotting in alongside Toure and perhaps Kolarov returning at left back.

There is little more to be said except that we thought we had seen it all until Barcelona produced something remarkable against PSG last week. After that result anything is possible – City need to hold their nerve but above all take their chances.

Buckle up – we could be in for another thrilling night of European football.

Come on City!!!

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