Manchester City’s latest in a long line of quests for Champions League glory begins on Tuesday, as La Liga giants Sevilla welcome the Premier League champions to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Group G. The Citizens were dumped out in the semi-finals by Real Madrid last year, while Los Palanganas were eliminated from the group stage before unsuccessfully challenging for Europa League glory. Prior to the 2021-22 season, Sevilla had never failed to make it out of their Champions League group – albeit with limited success in the knockout stages – but Julen Lopetegui’s side could only finish third behind Lille and Red Bull Salzburg last term. Previous successes in Europe’s secondary tournament also counted for nothing as Sevilla lost to West Ham United in the last-16 of the Europa League, but a fourth-placed finish in La Liga handed Los Palanganas another chance to test their mettle in the top tier.
The breakup of Jules Kounde-Diego Carlos defensive partnership has had a profound effect on the Sevilla team, though, and Lopetegui has steered his side to just one point from their opening four La Liga fixtures to leave them 17th in the embryonic standings. The visit of a rampant Barcelona was only ever going to end one way, as Eric Garcia, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski propelled La Blaugrana to a 3-0 success at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to leave Sevilla still waiting for their first win of the new term. The home faithful can take some solace in the fact that their side are unbeaten in six Champions League opening-day group-stage games – they have drawn each of their last four, though – and one point against Man City may be celebrated like all three this week. Pep Guardiola would have liked to go in to the first Champions League game with a win under the belt, but the team will have to make due with a draw.
Sevilla are really struggling in La Liga right now, with no wins in four games. League form however, often means nothing when it comes to European football. Manchester City go into the game as heavy favourites, and are expected to win quite comfortably. Sevilla will be hoping to shock Europe. In terms of early team news, Jack Grealish and Nathan Ake returned to the squad today, and will likely be in the travelling squad to Spain. Kyle Walker came off injured in the second-half, and will be assessed to see the extent of the injury. Jesus Corona is missing for Sevilla, after suffering a horrific injury in training last week. They are also without Marcao, and ex-Manchester City defender Karim Rekik is expected to be a doubt. Sevilla have one draw and three losses from four games in La Liga, and got beaten 3-0 by Barcelona on Saturday night. They will hope to put their league form behind them when they host Champions League favourites Manchester City on Tuesday night.
There was to be no third successive hat-trick for Erling Braut Haaland at the weekend, and even though the towering Norwegian made it 10 Premier League goals for the season at Villa Park, Man City dropped another two points early doors. Haaland was on hand to meet Kevin De Bruyne’s pinpoint cross at the back stick to tap home the opener in the second half, but Leon Bailey’s thunderbolt restored parity for Villa, who were incorrectly denied a second goal for offside when Philippe Coutinho rifled home. Arsenal now have the chance to move four points clear of Man City at the top of the Premier League table with victory over Manchester United, but there is still a lot of domestic football to be played in the coming months, and City fans are also growing impatient for a continental honour. The brilliance of Karim Benzema, skilfulness of Vinicius Junior and super-sub impact of Rodrygo all contributed to Real Madrid’s astounding 6-5 aggregate win over City in last year’s Champions League semi-finals, but the Manchester club have never been eliminated from the group stage under Guardiola.
Man City ran out 5-2 winners over two matches when they first met Sevilla competitively in the 2015-16 group stage, and if the home side were not already fearing an in-form Haaland enough, the 22-year-old struck four goals in two games for Borussia Dortmund against Los Palanganas in 2020-21. As if the departures of Carlos and Kounde were not painful enough, Sevilla remain depleted in defence by injuries to Marcao and Karim Rekik, and the former is still absent for another couple of weeks with a small hamstring tear. Jesus Corona is also expected to remain sidelined until 2023 with a fibula fracture, while former Manchester United man Adnan Januzaj was left out of the squad to face Barcelona due to concerns over his fitness. New arrival Kasper Dolberg earned his first minutes off the bench for Sevilla at the weekend after joining on loan from Nice to compete with Youssef En-Nesyri, and Lopetegui should consider recalls for Jesus Navas, Thomas Delaney and Papu Gomez after Saturday’s disappointment.
Meanwhile, Man City already have Aymeric Laporte (knee) out of contention for Tuesday’s game, and Guardiola has also been handed a concern over Kyle Walker, who came off injured in the draw with Villa. Walker’s injury could see Joao Cancelo move back to the right-hand side as either Sergio Gomez or Nathan Ake take up the left-back role, although the latter is only just back from injury himself, and the visitors will also hope to have Kalvin Phillips back from a shoulder issue. Julian Alvarez was perhaps harshly dropped from the first XI after his brace versus Nottingham Forest, but Riyad Mahrez – who loves a goal in the Champions League – arguably has a stronger chance of coming into the first XI this week.
Sevilla possible starting lineup:
Bono; Navas, Nianzou, Fernando, Acuna; Jordan, Rakitic, Delaney; Lamela, Gomez; En-Nesyri
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Ake; Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish