Manchester City

Man City predicted lineup vs Sporting CP - Champions League

Grey Whitebloom
Pep Guardiola has only once lost the first leg of a Champions League round of 16 tie, winning all five with Manchester City
Pep Guardiola has only once lost the first leg of a Champions League round of 16 tie, winning all five with Manchester City / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Last season's defeated Champions League finalists Manchester City travel to Lisbon to face Sporting CP in the competition's first leg round of 16 tie.

Pep Guardiola's side finished top of a tough group which included Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Club Brugge, but have already conceded twice as many goals (ten) as they did in the entirety of last season's run to the final (five).

Here's the XI Guardiola may deploy to earn the club's first Champions League clean sheet since April.

Manc City predicted lineup vs Sporting CP - Champions League

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo
Both Joao Cancelo (left) and Ruben Dias have been sent off against Sporting's B side while turning out for Benfica's equivalent / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Ederson (GK) - City's number (thirty-)one kept seven clean sheets in last year's Champions League but is yet to prevent an opposition frontline in the competition this term.

Joao Cancelo (RB) - With Kyle Walker serving the first of a three-match suspension following a particularly unnecessary red card against RB Leipzig, Cancelo is a more than adequate replacement.

Ruben Dias (CB) - Primed for a frosty reception as a former Benfica player, City's centre back never lost in the league against Sporting, scoring in a 4-2 win at the Jose Alvalade in March 2019.

Aymeric Laporte (CB) - One of several players afforded an evening off against Norwich on Saturday, Laporte has crept back up the pecking order after being left on the bench for last season's Champions League quarter-finals and onwards.

Oleksandr Zinchenko (LB) - Since Vlada Sedan - Zinchenko's then-fiancee - slammed Guardiola's Champions League tactics, the club have reached the competition's final, in which the Ukraine international was a surprise starter.

2. Midfielders

Rodri has impressed this season / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

Rodri (DM) - For a player who has - according to his manager - reached an 'extraordinary level' this season, Rodri is living up to Guardiola's appraisal of a role he played himself: "Holding midfielders needs to be a seven or an eight [out of ten] all the time."

Kevin De Bruyne (CM) - City's captain in an unsuccessful Champions League final is yet to score in this season's iteration of the competition.

Ilkay Gundogan (CM) - Never one to suffer a loss of rhythm from Guardiola's incessant chopping and changing, Gundogan could be poised to make his first consecutive starts of the calendar year.

3. Forwards

Bernardo Silva
Silva is one of four City players that have been on the books of Benfica, city rivals to Sporting / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Riyad Mahrez (RW) - Manchester City's top scorer across all competitions has netted five times in six group stage matches this term.

Bernardo Silva (ST) - City's most frequently used player since his arrival in 2017, Bernardo's involvement in a game of this importance is inevitable - wherever he might crop up when actually on the pitch.

Raheem Sterling (LW) - While a hat-trick may not guarantee a subsequent selection in this City side, Guardiola did admit that a confident Sterling is 'a really, really important player'.

You can read 90min's preview of Sporting vs Manchester City here.