Football News

Man City vs Sporting CP predicted XIs: Team news as De Bruyne inadvertently questions Guardiola’s transfer plans

By Ben Green

Published: 17:04, 7 March 2022

Manchester City host Sporting CP for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday (8pm kick-off, UK time).

Pep Guardiola’s men enter this midweek showdown on cloud nine following their recent 4-1 win over rivals Manchester United, and they can afford to let celebrations spill over to Wednesday (though only slightly) as they clash with the Portuguese champions with a 5-0 aggregate lead.

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Man City team news vs Sporting CP: KDB inadvertently questions Guardiola’s transfer plans

Guardiola has made no secret of his desire to bolster Manchester City’s frontline in the summer with a new striker, a pursuit that failed to produce last summer as Harry Kane stuck around at Tottenham. The Catalan coach revealed last week that he will be making plans to reinforce his attack when the season finishes.

“I think the club definitely needs a striker,” Guardiola said at the weekend. “We need a striker and I think the club is going to try. If it happens, it happens, but if it doesn’t, we’ll wait.”

Following Sergio Aguero’s departure and various injury and consistency issues with Gabriel Jesus, Guardiola has largely utilised a false-nine system this term, deploying the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling to lead his line throughout 2021/22.

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At the weekend, the onus fell on Foden to start through the middle, with De Bruyne deployed in his usual role as an attacking No. 8 as part of City’s midfield three, and the Belgian produced a goalscoring masterclass as he notched a brace and the club toyed with their great rivals.

Following the game, De Bruyne played down the seeming desperation from his manager to recruit a new No. 9 this summer, suggesting the current ‘no striker’ set-up is one that chimes with his style, possibly leading Guardiola to rethink his transfer strategy.

He said: “We have performed in so many matches without a striker, so we are used to it. It is whatever they say, but I enjoy the way we play. I think you can see that I like to be in possession of the ball and I like to press forward, this is my style. I am happy.”

Guardiola may look to deploy Jesus through the middle for this particular showdown against Sporting as he boasts the luxury of rotation with such a commanding overall lead, but Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake both remain out with a hamstring injury and knock respectively, so there may not be too much change defensively from Sunday’s Premier League mauling, bar Kyle Walker, who is serving out the second of his three-game European ban.

Predicted Man City XI vs Sporting CP:

  • Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Gundogan, Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Grealish. (4-3-3)

Sporting CP team news vs Man City: Pote a doubt

Sporting travel to England with a relatively clean bill of health. Ruben Amorim’s only major injury concern is that to talisman Pedro Goncalves, or ‘Pote’, so Pablo Sarabia and Nuno Santos are likely to dovetail Islam Slimani in attack.

Predicted Sporting CP XI vs Man City:

  • Adan; Coates, Inacio, Neto; Porro, Ugarte, Nunes, Reis; Sarabia, Santos, Slimani. (3-4-2-1)

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