Champions League: Picking a Combined XI From Group C

Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne
Man City take on Porto on Wednesday | Pool/Getty Images

The Champions League is back! For Manchester City, there is still a feeling of ‘what could have been’ last term, especially considering their dominating displays against Real Madrid. But ultimately, they fell well short against Lyon and paid the price.

Pep Guardiola’s men have been handed a rather favourable draw in 2020/21. Instead of being drawn against Juventus, PSG, Real Madrid, Sevilla or even Bayern Munich, City have Porto for company from Pot 1, as well as Marseille and Olympiacos.

The Sky Blues will undoubtedly be the overwhelming favourites to top the group, but then again, City were also overwhelming favourites against Lyon last season. Ahead of the first round of fixtures, we at 90min have decided to come up with a Group C combined XI….

Ruben DiasRuben Dias
Ruben Dias has started very well at Man City | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ederson – Man City (GK) – Well, this is obvious, isn’t it? Ederson’s simply ridiculous ability to play pinpoint long range passes has been well documented, but because of this, his shot-stopping ability and reflexes remain somewhat under-appreciated qualities. An outstanding all-round goalkeeper.

Kyle Walker – Man City (RB) – Providing the pace and energy down the right flank in this lineup is Walker. As well as providing the width for City going forward, the Englishman also uses his electric pace to get back in and support his centre-backs. Walker has started every game so far this term for the Sky Blues, most recently doing an excellent job in keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet during the win over Arsenal.

Ruben Dias – Man City (CB) – Dias has hardly put a foot wrong since making the switch to the Etihad at the end of September. As well as being composed on the ball and capable of building attacks, the defender has also shown a strong awareness and sense of positioning, allowing him to nip in and win the ball back effortlessly for his side. Dias has very quickly eased a number of fans’ concerns as to whether he would be able to make the step up.

Aymeric Laporte – Man City (CB) – It’s been a difficult start to the 2020/21 season for Laporte, who has needed to deal with niggling injuries, while he also tested positive for COVID-19 in September. Man City are a much better team with him in the side and Guardiola will be desperate to have him back as soon as possible. If Laporte can maintain fitness, he could form a strong defensive partnership with Dias.

Nathan Ake – Man City (LB) – Look, we could have selected Benjamin Mendy, but if we’re being completely honest, Ake just offers more solidity defensively and still acts as an outlet going forward as well. It was quite telling that Guardiola opted to take off Mendy during the tight tussle with Leeds prior to the international break and replace him with Ake at left-back in order to see out the remainder of the game. Ake has settled very quickly since making the summer switch and has already become a key squad member under Guardiola.

Morgan SansonMorgan Sanson
Sanson has been targeted by a number of clubs | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Jesus Corona – Porto (RM) – Corona has made a flying start to the season with Porto, scoring twice and providing two assists in just four league games so far. While initially starting out on the right, he has the intelligence to drift into spaces between the lines. A real threat, who will be key to Porto’s efforts to reaching the knockout stages.

Kevin de Bruyne – Man City (CM) – Do we even need to explain this one? De Bruyne missed City’s win over Arsenal through injury, but isn’t expected to be out for too long. De Bruyne can be simply unplayable when he’s in the mood, picking up pockets of space and playing passes that most players wouldn’t even be able to spot. But his work rate off the ball often goes somewhat unnoticed, leading the press and forcing mistakes from opponents.

Morgan Sanson – Marseille (CM) – A player who has been linked almost every Premier League club in recent times, but no move ever materialised despite it looking increasingly likely he would depart. A versatile and clever midfielder, Sanson has the ability to split a defence open with an eye-of-the-needle pass. While he may blow hot and cold sometimes, he still has managed one goal and two assists so far this term.

Raheem Sterling – Man City (LM) – Sterling has picked up right where he left off last season, with four goals to his name already in 2020/21. One of the first names on the team sheet in every game, Sterling will be looking to help the Sky Blues take the next step in the Champions League under Guardiola.

Sergio AgueroSergio Aguero
Aguero made his return against Arsenal | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Florian Thauvin – Marseille (SS) – Capable of playing out on the right or behind a central striker, Thauvin has made a lightning quick start to the 2020/21 season after missing the majority of the last campaign through injury. The 27-year-old has three goals and four assists in just seven appearances, most recently scoring once and providing an assist in the win over Bordeaux.

Sergio Aguero – Man City (ST) – The Argentine eased Guardiola’s striking concerns as he made his return from injury (somewhat surprisingly) against Arsenal. While it may take a little bit of time for the striker to return to his scintillating best after a lengthy lay off, Aguero will be hungry to make up for lost time – and this spells trouble for the three other teams in Group C.

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