Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas believes that Manchester City will beat Tottenham Hotspur in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash.
Spurs hold a 1-0 aggregate lead ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium, meaning a clean sheet would see them through to their first semi-final in a generation.
Son Heung-Min’s goal has put Mauricio Pochettino’s side in something of an envious position ahead of the deciding tie in Manchester.
A draw or any sort of win for Pochettino’s men – or even a 2-1 defeat – would see them through to the semi-finals.
But Nicholas believes that City will edge the tie, predicting a 3-1 victory for the Premier League champions, who were left to rue Sergio Aguero’s missed penalty in the first leg.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “This will be another tight affair. Man City have to score with another couple of goals and see if they can flex their muscles and get something.
“I see Raheem Sterling and his pace, it is just brilliant to watch. His goal against Crystal Palace, for example. The ball from Kevin De Bruyne combined with the run inside the man from Sterling was just sensational. I hope for their sake they start Sterling, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero once again, as these can damage Tottenham, who will sit in and play on the counter-attack with Lucas Moura’s pace.
“He scored a great hat-trick at the weekend. It is whether they are good enough to keep the ball. Harry Winks will come back in and play with Moussa Sissoko while Christian Eriksen will play further up.
“Sometimes you can force the pass in these games and the key to this game is De Bruyne. He has the determination to find the pass and he is good without the ball as well. Man City will go through – it will go right to the wire, but City are still holding the edge at this moment. Even at the weekend, they conceded to make it 2-1 but had the final push to get another.”
Spurs, of course, will be without Harry Kane at the Etihad.
Depending on who you listen to, that is either a bitter blow or a blessing in disguise, with Spurs allowed to play with the freedom and pace offered to them by both Lucas and Son.
Nicholas, though, is perhaps wise to make an educated guess that City will, at the very least, win the game at the Etihad.
Spurs have not won at the ground since 2016 and, prior to their encounter in the Champions League, had gone four games without a victory against the Cityzens in all competitions.
The game may well hinge on whether or not Spurs can cope without their England captain, but either way Nicholas is pretty emphatic in thinking City will win, and given the injury plague sweeping through north London it’s quite hard to disagree.