Sporting Lisbon host Man City at Estádio José Alvalade on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The hosts made it to the knockout stage by finishing ahead of Dortmund in their group and qualified with a game to spare. City lost two of their group matches but still topped their group ahead of PSG. Pep Guardiola is chasing a first Champions League title in 11 years, although his side is on a run of three losses in seven in this competition.
Sporting Lisbon Form
Sporting sits second in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, six points behind Porto. Their last match was against their rivals as it finished 2-2 (with Sporting having led 2-0) with a mass brawl at full time. Since their matchday six 4-2 defeat at Ajax Amsterdam, they had 11 wins and two defeats in 13 matches prior to the draw against Porto.
In their group, Sporting won 4-1 away and 4-0 at home against whipping boys Besiktas. Their key result was a 3-1 home win against Dortmund having lost 1-0 away to BVB. That gave them a head-to-head advantage, securing qualification after that matchday five victory.
Sporting Lisbon Team News
Coach Ruben Amorim is hoping to have Pedro Goncalves available after a muscle injury. He has 13 goals and nine assists to his name this season and is a key man. If fit, he could be on the bench with on-loan PSG winger Pablo Sarabia starting instead.
Sporting will remain in their favoured 3-4-3 setup with Paulinho as the focal point upfront. Islam Slimani provides a good plan B from the bench. Joao Palhinha should return to start in the engine room whilst former Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates will anchor the back three despite his 49th minute red card against Porto.
Sporting Lisbon Motivation
Motivation for this match will be huge in front of their own supporters. The side is capable of dropping into a back five to defend but they’re an attacking side and are instead expected to take the game to City.
Their six group matches produced 14 goals scored and 12 conceded. With Slimani and Pedro Goncalves on the bench, there are options to chase a result if trailing – so much rests on them winning this home leg.
Man City Form
City is in imperious form. Since losing 2-1 at RB Leipzig on matchday six in the Champions League, having secured the top spot, they have 11 wins and one draw in 12 matches. The only side to deny them a win is Southampton in a 1-1 draw.
Guardiola’s team shrugged off that minor setback with three wins in a row. Fulham was beaten 4-1 in the FA Cup before a steady 2-0 win against Brentford. Their last match brought a 4-0 win at Norwich as Raheem Sterling netted a hattrick.
Man City Team News
Guardiola completely rested (unused subs) four players in the win at Norwich so all will return fully fresh. They were Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, and Kevin de Bruyne. Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan are probably competing for one spot. De Bruyne has largely been back in the midfield three of late so Gundogan could lose out as he returns.
Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling are in sensational form and are expected to get the nod on the flanks. Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus are carrying injuries. Neither is expected to start even if fully fit.
Man City Motivation
The Champions League is the holy grail for Guardiola and Man City and all the players. Motivation and focus will be at 100% with a decent lead in the league table. The resting of players at Norwich shows that this match was the priority.
City will look to control the game, likely leaving a fair amount of men behind the ball knowing the pace of counter-threat of Sporting’s front three. A win and a clean sheet will be targeted so they may stop searching for more goals at 2-0 up to preserve a shutout.
Sporting won 2 of their 3 home CL matches this season
Sporting conceded 12 goals in 6 CL group stage matches
Sporting Lisbon have kept 1 clean sheet in their last 6 matches (all comps)
Man City have won 17 of their last 20 matches (all comps)
City have lost 3 of their last 7 UCL matches
After going 10 unbeaten on the road, City have lost 2 of their last 3 away UCL matches
City is huge favourites for this match. Sporting has a leaky defence so Guardiola’s side should score at least two goals, if not more. It isn’t easy to find value in the odds for this match so some creativity is needed.
Best Bet: Man City (-1 spread) at 1.80
Alternative Bet: Man City win and over 2.5 goals at 1.86
Correct Score Tip: Sporting Lisbon 1-3 Man City at 9.75
Goalscorer Tip: Raheem Sterling anytime scorer at 2.50
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