Manchester City will aim to preserve their unbeaten record in Group G of the Champions League when they welcome Sevilla to the Etihad Stadium for their final group game on Wednesday.
The Citizens have already qualified for the last 16 as group winners, while the visitors will drop down into the Europa League knockout rounds after securing third spot.
Manchester City are one of only five teams in this season’s Champions League who are yet to lose in the group stage, with victories in their first three matches followed by successive goalless draws against Copenhagen and Borussia Dortmund.
Indeed, a 0-0 stalemate away against Dortmund last week – which saw Riyad Mahrez miss another penalty kick – was enough to secure top spot in Group G for Pep Guardiola’s side as well as help their German counterparts qualify as runners-up, and both sides will discover their fate in the last 16 when the draw is made on November 7.
City returned to winning ways in the Premier League, without the presence of injured goal machine Erling Braut Haaland, when they secured a slender 1-0 away victory against Leicester City on Saturday, courtesy of a stunning Kevin De Bruyne free kick early in the second half.
Although City’s upcoming clash against Sevilla is essentially a dead rubber, Guardiola and co will be keen to come away with a positive result and build momentum ahead of three more important domestic fixtures before the World Cup break.
Fifty-seven days ago, the Citizens cruised to a 4-0 victory against Sevilla in their opening Group G fixture, with Haaland (2), Phil Foden and Ruben Dias all on the scoresheet in Spain.
City will be confident of success again on Wednesday as they have won 81% of their Champions League home games since Guardiola took charge in 2016, the highest home win percentage in the competition’s history after at least 20 games under the same manager. Guardiola himself has a solid record against Sevilla, losing just two of his previous 13 meetings against them as a manager.
Since Jorge Sampaoli replaced Julen Lopetegui as head coach at the beginning of October, Sevilla have won two, drawn three and lost two of their seven matches across all competitions, a run of form which indicates that the Spanish side are still struggling for consistency.
After losing 3-1 in La Liga away at Real Madrid, Los Rojiblancos secured a 3-0 home win in the Champions League against Copenhagen last week, but that result was followed by a 1-0 league defeat just four days later at home to Rayo Vallecano.
With just 10 points accumulated from their first 12 La Liga matches, Sevilla have subsequently slipped into the relegation zone, an unthinkable position for a side who have finished fourth in each of the previous three seasons.
Los Rojiblancos now briefly turn their attention away from domestic action as they prepare for their final Champions League fixture, with Sampaoli’s side aware that they cannot finish any higher than third place in Group G as Dortmund have a better head-to-head record.
A return to the Europa League is in store for the six-time champions, who could do with a morale-boosting triumph over Man City on Wednesday ahead of the Seville derby against rivals Real Betis this weekend.
However, success at the Etihad Stadium could prove challenging for Sevilla as they have lost all three previous meetings with the Citizens and have failed to win any of their last six away matches in the Champions League, including five draws and one defeat.
Manchester City Champions League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Sevilla Champions League form:
Sevilla form (all competitions):
We say: Manchester City 2-0 Sevilla
Both sides will have more important fixtures to prioritise in the coming weeks before the World Cup than Wednesday’s clash, and neither team is expected to be at full strength here.
Nevertheless, Man City will still be regarded as favourites with their superior squad depth and they should have enough quality to come away with a routine victory at the Etihad Stadium.