Against what will be their second successive Portuguese opposition in the tournament, Manchester City will look to turn their attention away from domestic affairs on Thursday when they travel to the Estadio José Alvalade to take on Sporting Lisbon as heavy odds on favourites with Betfred.
The Citizens were responsible for ending the cup run of current Europa League champions Porto after handing the Portistas a 6-1 aggregate battering.
Sporting Lisbon made it into the Round of 16 in slightly less glamorous style after beating Legia Warsaw 3-2 on aggregate.
The Sportinguistas haven’t exactly looked prominent in their league form this season but the underdog factor can often have a considerable impact upon sides and the matter is no different for Sporting Lisbon.
The Primeira Liga club find themselves sitting in fifth place in the Portuguese top flight and will be looking to recover from a weekend loss to Vitoria Setubal.
Regardless of their slight qualification, the Lisbon outfit will hope to cause a Europa League cupset this week against high-flying Manchester City.
Roberto Mancini is fortunate to have an army of talent in his ranks after going through a period of injuries and absences that happened to coincide with the African Cup of Nations.
With the likes of Kolo and Yaya Toure back at his disposal, the Italian was able to rest the likes of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Micah Richards in the weekend’s 2-0 victory over Bolton, supposedly so that they could feature against Sporting.
Should this be the case, Ricardo Sá Pinto’s side will have a near insurmountable task ahead of them during midweek.
Mancini will surely see winning the Premier League as a priority for his side but due to the sheer size of his squad, he could opt to field the likes of Mario Balotelli and Samir Nasri once more this week instead of bringing in his more prominent superstars.
After apologising to his manager, Carlos Tevez could make a return to European football this week after playing for the City reserves several times over the past week and a half, and finding the net in his most recent outing against Bolton reserves.