The second legs of the Champions League last-16 matches get underway this week, as Man City host Sporting on Wednesday night. In a game where Man City are frankly just turning up for some fun, they will aim to sail into the next round after beating their Portuguese opponents 5-0 in the first leg.
City ran riot last time out, with goals coming from Mahrez, Foden, Sterling and two from Silva, putting the tie beyond doubt. However, with Sporting having their dignity on the line, they will be looking to not let City walk over them again. With the likes of De Bruyne likely to be rested, Sporting will look to take advantage of some heavyweights being out for City.
Pep Guardiola has claimed that City only have 14 first team players available for the game due to injuries and suspension. Even though Sporting may find it difficult to trouble City on the aggregate score, they could be able to pose a threat on the night.
Man City have only made the Champions League final once, but have managed to reach at least the quarter-finals in the last four seasons. With their performances in the Champions League steadily improving, making the quarter-finals again this time around shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Sporting have never advanced past the last-16 of the Champions League. The last and only time that they were in this position before, they also lost the first leg 5-0, albeit to Bayern Munich. They will be hoping that the first leg is the only similarity, as they went on to lose the second leg 7-1.
Man City and Sporting have only come together twice before this season, as they clashed in the Europa League back in 2012. With both teams winning one game apiece in that tie, Sporting advanced on away goals, which is a rule that has been abolished for this campaign.
With Man City seemingly sailing through, have a look at my bet builder selections below as well as the Cheat Sheet, as we get stuck into some more Champions League action.
Over 2.5 Goals
If the first leg in this tie suggested anything, it was that the difference in competitiveness between the two teams led to Man City being able to flood Sporting with a handful of goals. Despite the fact that City may take a more laid back approach on Wednesday night, Pep Guardiola will still expect ruthlessness from his players, which is why this game should follow suit of the first leg.
In the Champions League this season, six out of Man City’s seven games have seen over 2.5 goals. This reinforces the likelihood of this selection, as Man City always looked to put on a show in Europe. Similarly, Sporting have exactly the same record in the Champions League, showing that both teams have featured in matches that see goals fly in, suggesting no reason why this won’t continue into the second leg.
In their Champions League games, Man City have had an average of 4.72 goals per game, which exceeds the selection of over 2.5 goals by a safe amount. Sporting aren’t too far off that number, as they see an average of 4.43 goals per game in the Champions League this season. With both teams bringing action in their European ties this campaign, the game on Wednesday night should see a good amount of goals featured, despite the result looking like it will only be going one way.
Looking at a larger sample size, Man City see 3.07 goals per game in the league, showing that goals aren’t only a feature of their European games. With this stat being an average from over 25 games, this shows that goals aren’t usually missing from Man City fixtures.
With Man City’s top five goalscorers in the league totalling 44 goals between them, this shows that their magnitude of talent allows them to share the goals around. Not only do they have a large selection of goalscorers, but these players are frequently finding themselves on the scoresheet.
Raheem Sterling to Score Anytime
With goals from Man City looking like an absolute certainty in this fixture, I’ve done some research into who I feel is most likely to end up on the scoresheet, with Raheem Sterling looking like the best choice to go with.
Despite not appearing in the thrashing of Manchester United, this will bolster his chances of appearing against Sporting. Playing in every Champions League game so far this season, the Englishman has been rested, as he will be raring to be unleashed against Sporting. With it looking likely that De Bruyne will be rested to avoid suspension, this further increases the chances of Sterling being the player of focus during this match.
Being one of the players that scored in the first leg, Sterling will be looking to add to his Champions League tally. Sterling averages 2.41 shots per game, outlining his attacking prowess as he always proves himself as a strong threat to his opponents. Out of those, he averages 1.2 shots on target per game, as he constantly looks to test the keeper.
As he will be coming up against a side with a larger difference in competitiveness, as seen in the first leg, this increases the chance that Sterling will have a larger amount of attacking opportunities than normal, where he will be looking to finish clinically. With a player of Sterling’s quality, he isn’t expected to miss many chances when they come his way. With his ability to float around attacking positions, I’m expecting him to be right in the middle of the action. Averaging 0.38 goals per shot on target that he has, it never takes Sterling long to find the back of the net, as this number highlights the fact that he doesn’t waste many golden chances.
Matheus Reis Shown a Card
By the looks of it, Man City’s dominance that was shown in the first leg will carry over to the second part of the tie. If Sporting are yet again dumbfounded at the sheer quality of Man City, they will end up struggling, whilst also showing frustration. Because of this, I’m expecting Matheus Reis to be booked.
Owning his place in the Sporting defence, the Brazilian can play in left centre back, or left wing back. Reis has picked up three yellow cards in his last six games in all competitions, reinforcing his recent habit of getting on the wrong side of the referee. Altogether in the league this season, Reis has accumulated five yellow cards, as well as a red card, establishing himself as one of the hot-headed defenders in the side.
With the referee averaging 4.5 yellow cards per game, we could see a few bookings being dished out. With Reis’ recent reckless approach to his defending, it would not surprise me to see him end up in the book.
Averaging a total of 1.66 fouls per game, Reis is going to have his hands full against City yet again, as their incredible, talented players will be wreaking havoc on the Sporting defence once more. With potential starters such as Jack Grealish drawing 3.18 fouls per game, this could very easily end up with Reis seeing yellow. As well as Grealish, Sterling manages to draw 2.21 fouls per game, who I’ve already established to be a key part in Wednesday night’s game. With the City attack constantly drawing fouls, they make the oppositions’ job even more difficult as they constantly float around in their positions, causing every defending an issue.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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Manchester City v Sporting Predicted Line-ups
Manchester City predicted XI (4-3-3) : Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Fernandinho, Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Sporting predicted XI (3-4-3) : Adan; Reis, Coates, Inacio; Porro, Ugarte, Essugo, Vinagre; Sarabia, Slimani, Edwards
Manchester City v Sporting Cheat Sheet
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* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch Manchester City v Sporting in the Champions League
📅 When is Manchester City v Sporting? / Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 20:00
🏟 Where is Manchester City v Sporting? / Etihad Stadium (Manchester)
📺 What TV channel is Manchester City v Sporting on? / BT Sport 2
🟨 …And who is the referee for Manchester City v Sporting? / Halil Umut Meler 🇹🇷