UCL 2018-19, Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur: 3 key battles

Manchester City will host Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, after losing the first leg 1-0 away from home.

Ahead of the game, here are three key battles that could potentially decide the outcome of this fixture.

Raheem Sterling vs Toby Alderweireld

Toby Alderiweireld was rested in Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing of Huddersfield Town. But, the Belgian international will be a vital cog in the Tottenham defence, especially in dealing with the threat of Raheem Sterling.

The former Liverpool attacker has scored five goals in his last three Premier League matches, two of which came in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend.

Sterling’s ability to test the opposing defenders with his mazy runs across the final third will be important for Manchester City while he also has a knack for scoring goals, thus making him one of the most dangerous threats for Tottenham in this encounter.

And the onus will be on the experienced Alderweireld to prevent the England international from finding any freedom in the attacking department.

Alderweireld’s performance against Sterling will also go a long way in helping Spurs become more expressive in the final third as it will allow Kieran Trippier to provide more attacking support from the right flank.

Lucas Moura vs Aymeric Laporte

Heung-Min Son’s goal in the first half proved to be the main difference between the two sides in the first leg. And while the South Korean international will surely play a key role in this encounter, Tottenham fans will be thrilled to see Lucas Moura as well.

The Brazilian scored a hat-trick in the win over Huddersfield and is arguably the most in-form player going into this game. His trickery and dynamism will be important as Tottenham are likely to play on the counter, especially in the absence of talismanic striker Harry Kane.

That’s where Aymeric Laporte could come into the fray, having been in sublime form throughout the course of this campaign. The Frenchman has impressed the onlookers not only with his remarkable passing but his defensive solidity as well and thus, he will be tasked with the responsibility of keeping an eye on the enigmatic Lucas this week.

With Dele Alli a doubt, Moura will need to step up and his form means Manchester City can’t take him lightly.

Kevin de Bruyne vs Moussa Sissoko

Kevin de Bruyne was in top form when his side pulled off a comprehensive 3-1 win over Crystal Palace. The Belgian orchestrated the play really well and created a host of opportunities in the final third, which was indicative of his steady return to his old self.

And the former Wolfsburg star will want to keep up that momentum against Spurs in midweek. However, he will be up against the hard-working Moussa Sissoko, who will continue to deputise for the injured Eric Dier.

Sissoko has been a mainstay in the Spurs midfield for the past couple of months. His ability to disrupt the flow of the opposition coupled with his aggressive approach in pressing could be ideally suited to Pochettino’s counter-attacking approach against City on Wednesday.

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