Man City's Champions League opponents preview

By Guest writer, Thu 16 December 2021 14:45

Man City's Champions League opponents preview 

Manchester City will be odds-on betting favourites to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals after being drawn together with Sporting Lisbon in the competition's round of 16.

You may not need to hedge your bets through sure betting for this clash – that is better reserved for City’s Premier League title run where they are in a three-way race alongside Chelsea and Liverpool, and different bookmakers have different odds for each outcome.

In the Champions League, the defending Premier League champions have finished top of Champions League Group A, one point clear of fellow European powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain.

But it's fair to say that Pep Guardiola's team blew hot and cold in the group stage campaign, as evidenced by a brace of defeats at PSG and RB Leipzig.

Yet, with only Bayern Munich (22) and Ajax (20) beating Man City's tally of 18 goals scored in this season's Champions League group stage, it looks like the Cityzens are on the right trajectory.

After suffering heartbreak in last season's grand final against Chelsea, the Etihad outfit are again one of the leading candidates to claim the coveted prize this term.

The first roadblock between Man City and long-awaited Champions League glory will be a Sporting side that wrapped up the domestic title last season.

The Lions experienced mixed fortunes in Group C, winning four of their six group outings while losing the other two, including a 4-2 thrashing away to Ajax on Matchday 6.

But a couple of comprehensive triumphs over Group C basement boys Besiktas and a stunning 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 5 eventually proved enough to send Sporting to the knock-outs.

Sporting last faced an English side in major European competition in 2018/19, failing to find the back of the net in both Europa League group stage clashes against Arsenal (D1, L1).

Meanwhile, the last time they faced Premier League opposition in the Champions League was in the 2014/15 group phase, where they lost both meetings with Chelsea by an aggregate score of 4-1.

However, the Lions have kind memories of their last European knock-out tie versus English clubs, having ousted Man City of all teams in the 2011/12 Europa League last-16 via away goal rule.

Much has changed since, especially at the Etihad, as the Premier League heavyweights now have vengeance on their minds.

Still, Sporting's comfortable 3-1 win at Benfica in the Primeira Liga in early December, coupled with their unbeaten domestic record this term, suggests the Cityzens can-ill afford to take the Portuguese side lightly.

Ruben Amorim's men are level on points with fierce rivals Porto at the top of the table, having won 12 of their 14 league fixtures (D2) to date. This makes it a possible clash of two table-toppers with Man City currently leading in the Premier League table.

Despite conceding an average of 2.00 goals per match in the Champions League group stage, the main ingredient of Sporting's success under Amorim has been a water-tight backline.

Indeed, they have conceded just five goals in 14 league fixtures thus far this season, three fewer than joint-table toppers Porto and six than Benfica.