Match preview: Hamburg v Manchester City

Hamburg v Manchester City, UEFA Cup, April 8, 2009

Mark Hughes takes his Manchester City side to the Nordbank Arena hoping to gain a major result on the way to some silverware and perhaps keep his job at Eastlands which with all the money from Dubai is turning into a poisoned chalice.

The winners of this tie will face the victors from the clash between Werder Bremen and Udinese and with Robinho (12/5 to score on the night) in their ranks and having survived two penalty shoot-outs, City may feel they have a real chance of winning Europe’s second class competition.

Following a marathon European season, City will be buoyed in the knowledge that they have already won in Germany this season, 2-0 at Schalke in November (their last away win in any competition) and their Brazilian trickster could well return to the form of old after he was cleared of a sexual assault charge earlier this week.

There are injury doubts over the likes of Wayne Bridge, Gelson Fernandes and Stephen Ireland but there is no doubt that if City can survive this tough encounter they will rely on their home form which has been excellent this campaign.

Much of the build-up in England will likely center on Big Martin Jol but Hamburg have some great players and are quietly challenging for the Bundesliga alongside surprise teams Hertha Berlin and Wolfsburg alongside Bayern Munich.

This match is clear proof of the strength of the Hamburg squad, since two players in Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany will be returning to their former club having been enticed to City since they became one of the richest clubs in world football.

Among the players who could cause City damage are attacking full back Marcell Jansen, playmaker Piotr Trochowski and Croats Ivica Olic and Mladen Petric. Although he is a doubt with an ankle injury, the City defence will also have to beware of Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero who turned the last round tie with Galatasaray on its head with an excellent brace in the second leg in Turkey.

City will have their work cut out and with their away form a defeat is almost expected, can they limit the damage though and set up an intriguing second leg at Eastlands?

101gg predicts: Hamburg 2 – Manchester City 1 (15/2) & Piotr Trochowski to score the first goal (8/1).

Full match odds here.