Manchester City go into their crucial Champions League encounter against Villarreal on Wednesday knowing that anything less than three points would do serious harm to their prospects of qualifying for the knockout stages of European football’s leading club competition.
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A late strike from Sergio Aguero was enough to help City scrape through 2-1 winners in the first ever game between the two sides two weeks ago, and since then both have taken very different paths to the next game.
City are still flying high from their astonishing 6-1 win over local rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford which they backed up with two fine wins over Wolves in the pace of five days, and now they will look to pick up a priceless win in the Champions League against a seriously struggling Villarreal side.
With leading striker Giuseppe Rossi cruelly sidelined for six months with a cruciate ligament injury, the Yellow Submarines manager Juan Carlos Garrido will be desperately seeking goals from elsewhere in his side that will arrest their European slump.
Villarreal have lost all three of their Champions League games so far and have won only one of their seven games in all competitions, a run of form that has put Garrido under pressure to turn things around.
City meanwhile have no injury worries going into the game, and will be able to call upon the services of the on-fire Mario Balotelli, who has finished his three game European suspension. Kolo Toure is also available for selection having completed his drug ban, while Adam Johnson may get the nod on the wing after impressing in recent weeks.
It is the visitors who are the favourites for this one with the home side well behind in the betting stakes, a fairly damning reflection of the form Villarreal find themselves in, while Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are all favourites to open the scoring.