Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Sporting CP Preview
Already 5-0 up in the tie, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City will host Ruben Amorim's Sporting CP at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday the 9th of March. The Champions League Round of 16 tie will kick off at 20:00 (GMT) and will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2.
In his press conference - Guardiola confirmed that Joao Cancelo is unavailable for the match against Sporting as he is 'sick'. He also confirmed that City only have '14 players' available for the match on Wednesday with Nathan Ake still out injured and Kyle Walker suspended. The Catalan said that Kevin De Bruyne may not play as he is close to a suspension but 'we will see'.
Ederson, Stones, Fernandinho, Laporte, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Bernardo, McAtee, Jesus, Foden, Sterling
League position: 1st
Top scorer: Mahrez (21)
Previous result: W 4-1 v Manchester United (H)
Since City got their emphatic victory in Lisbon, the Blues have been through a sticky patch in form. A disappointing loss at home to Spurs was the catalyst – a shock to the system for the reigning champions. After this, City were pushed all the way against Everton, and a Phil Foden 82nd minute winner sealed the points. After a couple of below-par performances, City proved their class in a 4-1 demolition over bitter rivals Manchester United. The Blues had 70% possession against United, having 24 shots with 10 on target. A memorable derby day victory is the perfect way to turn things around for City, a reminder to the rest of the league that the Blues aren't going to roll over for Liverpool in this title race.
Jack Grealish had a spell-binding game against United, linking up excellently with Bernardo Silva, constantly wreaking havoc on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The 26-year-old is beginning to look like a real asset to this City squad, playing with a real swagger against the Red Devils. Grealish currently has 4 goals and 3 assists in all competitions this season, however, Guardiola was quick to defend the England international, stating that 'we didn't buy him to score 45 goals', also saying that 'players today play for the statistics, but this is the biggest mistake they can do'. His excellent goal against Peterborough was a sign of things to come for Grealish – nonetheless, even without the goals, we have seen glimpses of his brilliance this season.
It was another De Bruyne masterclass against United, with the Belgian scoring 2 goals and getting an assist, taking his tally up to 10 goals and 8 assists in all competitions. His goal in the 5th minute of the match was his 50th Premier League goal. The Belgium international also has 81 Premier League assists, taking him above David Beckham for Premier League assists. After a quiet couple of weeks, De Bruyne answered any questions asked about him by tearing United apart, again.
With City being 5-0 up in the tie against Sporting and a few of the regular starters being unavailable, Guardiola could take the opportunity to showcase some of the young talent in the squad. James McAtee could be an option for the boss, the 19-year-old has 17 goals and 4 assists in 18 Premier League 2 appearances this season. McAtee has looked excellent in the short time he has had in the City first team, and at no point has he looked out of place among some of football's elite.
League position: 2nd
Top scorer: Goncalves (14)
Previous result: W 2-0 v Arouca (H)
Since the first leg in Lisbon three weeks ago, Sporting have had a mixed bag in terms of results. They have played 4, won 2, drawn 1 and lost 1. Their most recent result was a 2-0 victory over Arouca. Sporting are currently 6 points behind league leaders Porto, with only 9 league games left to play. The Portuguese side need a slip-up from Porto if they are going to acquire their 20th league title.
Sporting's Pedro Goncalves is having an excellent season so far, with 14 goals and 9 assists in all competitions. The 23-year-old is Sporting's leading scorer across all competitions and is averaging a goal every 166 minutes. In 2017. Goncalves signed for Wolves on a free transfer but was sold to FC Famalicao in 2019 for a reported £1.17 million. He then joined Sporting a year later for a reported fee of £5.85 million. The young star has unfortunately picked up a recent injury and last played in Sporting's 3-0 victory over Estoril Praia in February – his return date is unknown.
Currently, on loan from PSG, Pablo Sarabia is having a superb season in Portugal. The 29-year-old has 13 goals and 9 assists in all competitions for Sporting this season. Sarabia joined the French giants in 2019 after leaving Sevilla, however with the PSG squad already stacked with some of football's biggest names, the Spaniard struggled to make the impact he would have desired. This led to the French outfit sending Sarabia to Sporting, with the left-back Nuno Mendes going the other way.
Algerian forward Islam Slimani has found himself in an excellent run of form, with 3 goals in his last 2 league matches. The ex-Leicester man joined Sporting in January from Olympique Lyon on a free transfer and is currently averaging a league goal every 80 minutes for Sporting. The 33-year-old has signed a contract for Sporting that expires in June 2023.
Despite City being 5-0 up in the tie, Guardiola will not want City to get sloppy in the second leg. He will be expecting City to pick up where they left off against the Portuguese side and comfortably cruise to the quarter-final of the Champions League.
Referee: Halil Umut Meler
Assistant referees: Mustafa Emre Eyisoy & Ibrahim Caglar Uyarcan
Fourth official: Arda Kardesler
VAR: Paolo Valeri
Assistant VAR: Abdulkadir Bitigen
Written by: @CharleyLongden
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