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Sporting are present in the last-16 stage of the Champions League for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, when they incredibly lost 12-1 on aggregate to Bayern Munich, and there is no question that they are the serious underdogs to advance from this two-legged affair with the English champions.
The Portuguese champions, as mentioned, finished second behind Ajax in Group C to advance to the knockout round of the competition, claiming nine points from their six matches, managing to book their spot in the last-16 stage of the tournament despite suffering three defeats in the section.
Sporting’s standout result in the section was a 3-1 win over Dortmund at the end of November, and they will know that a positive result in the first leg is vital in order to stand a chance ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium, which will take place on March 9.
Ruben Amorim‘s side will enter this match off the back of a 2-2 draw with Porto in the league on Friday, with five red cards being shown in the chaotic contest; the result left the Green and Whites in second spot in their domestic table, six points behind leaders Porto on the same number of matches.
The Lions have actually won seven of their last nine home European matches, while they beat Man City when the two sides locked horns in the last-16 stage of the Europa League back in 2012, triumphing on away goals following a 3-3 draw.
Sporting are hopeful that Pedro Goncalves, who has scored 13 times and registered nine assists in all competitions this season, will overcome a muscular problem to start Tuesday’s contest.
There are not expected to be any surprises for the home side when it comes to their formation, with the team due to set up in a 3-4-3, with Paulinho operating at the tip of the attack despite competition from Islam Slimani.
Joao Palhinha should return in the middle of the park, having only been a substitute against Porto, but Pablo Sarabia and Matheus Reis will keep their spots, while Sebastian Coates will be a part of the back three despite being sent off in the team’s last league match.
As for Man City, Kyle Walker will miss the game through suspension, which might open the door for John Stones to feature at right-back, although Joao Cancelo could also switch across, with Oleksandr Zinchenko keeping his spot at left-back.
Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish remain injury doubts for the Citizens, but Guardiola’s side did not pick up any fresh issues during the win over Norwich on Saturday.
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Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte and Joao Cancelo were all rested at the weekend but will be back in the side here, while Raheem Sterling, who netted three times against the Canaries, should start in a front three alongside Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden.
Sporting Lisbon possible starting lineup:
Adan; Inacio, Coates, Feddal; Porro, Nunes, Palhinha, Reis; Sarabia, Paulinho, Goncalves
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Stones, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; B Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Foden, Sterling