Champions League Betting: City's Hart To Thrive Under Pressure

Joe Hart has been brought in from the cold by Manuel Pellegrini for tonight, in a game where he's fully expected to keep a clean sheet.

Having scored just two goals in this season's Champions League campaign, Viktoria Plzen won't offer much attacking threat, and it's an ideal opportunity for England's number one to stay under the radar and quietly record a shut-out.

It’s easier said than done for Hart, though, whose tendency to make poor decisions has cost his side dear on several occasions in the past six months - with Pellegrini eventually losing patience ahead of the 7-0 drubbing of Norwich City. 

The nature of the beast for goalkeepers is that they are all-too-often remembered for their mistakes, and his record of six clean sheets in seven games earlier this season is now eclipsed by the few wayward displays.

Meanwhile, Hart has been better in an England shirt than a City one, and his commanding display against Poland – which saw him pull off a vital save at a crucial time in the second half – and string of good stops in the recent friendly with Germany, proves that Hart is far from washed up at 26.

His problems have come from his erratic decision-making, and also some basic technical errors, for example letting Franck Ribery’s shot go through his hands against Bayern Munich in October.

Hart remains a very good goalkeeper and this is undoubtedly the toughest period of his career. But Pellegrini is giving him a chance by a) quashing the rumours linking him with a move away from City in January, and b) handing him a start in one of City’s perceived easier games.

Plzen should offer Hart the perfect chance to regain some focus, and for that reason he’s a good bet to repay his manager’s faith.

Best bet: Hart to keep a clean sheet at 1.60.

Score prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Viktoria Plzen at 6.75.