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.
Man City are viewed by many to be the favourites for this season’s Champions League, but the Citizens were far from perfect in the group stage of the competition, losing two of their six matches; a record of 12 points was still enough to top the section, though, with Paris Saint-Germain finishing second.
Pep Guardiola’s side will enter this match off the back of a 4-0 win over Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday, which moved them 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool at the summit.
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Man City are also chasing success in the FA Cup, and indeed Champions League, and it will be fascinating to see what the reigning English champions can achieve during the 2021-22 campaign.
Guardiola’s side, who lost to Chelsea in last season’s European Cup final, have impressively won 13 of their last 20 away European matches, while they have been present in the last-16 of this competition in each of the last nine seasons, with the club now building a real pedigree at this level.
The Manchester giants suffered a 1-0 defeat when they last travelled to Sporting in the Europa League back in 2012, though, and were also beaten at PSG and RB Leipzig in the group stage of this season’s competition, so Sporting will certainly believe that they can cause an upset on Tuesday night