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Champions League: Can City finally land European honours?

Manchester City sent out a statement on Tuesday by beating Sporting Lisbon 5-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

City can be backed at 9/4 to win the Champions League after Tuesday's performance in Portugal almost certainly guaranteed their passage through to the quarter finals.

City building momentum

Pep Guardiola's high flyers have some serious momentum on their side and are playing with absolute confidence in everything they do.

They've tasted defeat just once, losing to RB Leipzig in the Champions League, since 30th October and have picked up 19 wins from their last 21 outings across all competitions.

Tuesday's result was their fourth successive win, scoring 15 goals during that run, while they've picked up clean sheets in each of their last three games.

The Premier League title is theirs to lose after claiming 43 points from the last 45 on offer to pull nine clear at the top of the standings, however, it's European glory that is at the top of their agenda.

Despite huge amounts of investment since the club was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, City have failed to go all the way in the Champions League.

They do appear to be getting closer, though, and last season saw them reach the final for the first time, although it ended in tears as they lost 1-0 to Chelsea.

With a foot already in the quarter-finals, many clubs will be wary of meeting City in the next stage and it's understandable on the back of Tuesday's emphatic win.

Riyad Mahrez opened the scoring with his 17th goal across all competitions this term, notching his eighth in the last nine games, while Bernardo Silva netted a brace and English pair Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling also got on the scoresheet.

On most other nights, Sterling would have been the headline as he moved joint second with Paul Scholes on the list of English goalscorers in the Champions League, however, City were purring and the focus was rightly placed on the overall performance.

City among good company

Many records have come and gone under Guardiola's tenure both domestically and on the European stage but they continue to break new ground.

Tuesday's emphatic win, which saw City net four times in the first half, saw them become the first team to hit four or more in the opening 45 minutes of a knockout tie in the competition since Bayern Munich thrashed Barcelona 8-2 en route to winning the Champions League in 2020.

They didn't quite manage to match the record for the biggest single win in a last-16 match but they do already hold the joint record for that.

City beat Schalke 7-0 in the second leg of their last-16 tie in 2019 to equal Bayern, who have twice won 7-0 at the same stage, seeing off Shakhtar Donetsk in 2015 and FC Basel in 2012.

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Can anyone stop City?

Bayern Munich, priced at 4/1, could potentially be the biggest threat to City's hopes of lifting the Champions League title this term, while Liverpool, who can be backed at 5/1, might also have a say.

The German giants, who exited at the quarter-final stage last season, aren't expected to encounter too many problems in the last 16 after being drawn against FC Salzburg.

They aren't as comfortable in their pursuit of a domestic title as City, however, with Saturday's 4-2 loss to Bochum giving second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who are six points adrift, hope of closing the gap.

Liverpool face a trickier test in the last 16 with Inter Milan hoping to upset Jurgen Klopp's side over two legs.

Of course, it would be wrong to completely overlook the likes of 7/1 Paris Saint-Germain and 25/1 Real Madrid, but they haven't been playing with the consistency of City this term.

PSG beat Real 1-0 courtesy of a Kylian Mbappe strike in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday at the Parc des Princes, but both sides failed to catch the eye, despite boasting some of the best talent in world football.

Ajax, priced at 14/1, are also worth keeping a close eye on as they prepare to face Benfica for a place in the quarter finals.

The Dutch outfit reached the semi-finals in 2018/19 and, after several key figures departed, have assembled another very strong squad.

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