Manchester City: 8 Predictions for the Europa League Tie with Porto

Elliot BusbyContributor IIFebruary 15, 2012

Manchester City: 8 Predictions for the Europa League Tie with Porto

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    After stumbling into the labyrinthine maze that UEFA call the Europa League, City are the odds-on favourite to go on and win it.

    Rivals' United succumbed to the same fate, failing to qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds and now have to face teams that the Manchester giants are more used to meeting in preseason friendlies.

    They may be overwhelming favourites, but City will first have to overcome Portuguese giants FC Porto, the reigning Europa League champions.

    The tie should be fairly routine for the free-spending Citizens, but Porto could throw a spanner or two in the works if Mancini's men aren't 100 percent on their game.

    Here are 10 predictions for the first leg in Porto.

City Will Concede

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    City have seemed somewhat unbeatable for most of this season.

    However, they have definitely suffered from a degree of defencive frailty when facing teams with an attacking pedigree.

    Porto boast a good number of attacking threats, including Chelsea target Hulk and new signing Marc Janko.

    Mancini will need to cope with these threats if the tie is to be alive when they travel back to Manchester.

The Tie Will Still Be Alive

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    With both sides boasting some potent attacking threats, goals are likely to fly in over the two legs.

    The first leg of European ties are usually cagey encounters, and this will be no different.

    City will be more concerned with keeping the tie alive, and, although I think they will concede, the game won't be lost in the first 90 minutes.

One or Both of the Tourés Will Feature

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    Both Kolo and Yaya Touré are back in contention after returning from the African Nations Cup.

    Mancini said earlier in the week that they will not be given any time to rest after losing the final to Zambia on penalties; they could be thrown into the fray in Portugal.

    Their return will be welcomed by Mancini, as both have been integral parts of the City team this season. 

The Dragão Will Be Bouncing

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    The Estadio do Dragão ('Stadium of the Dragon') was built in 2003 and holds up to 50,000 supporters.

    When full, it boasts one of the most vociferous atmospheres in European football.

    The home crowd will no doubt be in fine voice for this massive game, and the City players will have to deal with the pressure if they are to come away with anything.

Balotelli Shall Return

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    The enigmatic Italian hasn't featured for City for three weeks, following a ban handed out by the FA for apparently stamping on Scott Parker.

    His pace and unpredictability make him a tricky customer for any defence, and his return will be welcomed by Mancini and the City fans.

    Due to his lack of match practice he won't play the full 90 minutes, but he will play some part.

Marc Janko Will Win a Header

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    The 6"5' Austrian striker signed for Porto in January after his contract at Dutch side FC Twente ran out.

    A real target man, he poses a serious threat both in the air and with the ball at his feet.

    Expected to lead the line for Porto at the Dragao, City's defence will have to be on their toes to deal with the big man.

Hulk Will Not Prove Why He's Worth £83m

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    The powerhouse striker is highly coveted in the European transfer market, with Chelsea apparently ready to meet the £83m release clause on his contract.

    As happens so often with sought-after players, they fail to perform when the spotlight is firmly on them, and I can't help feeling this will happen in Porto on Thursday.

    No one can doubt his talent, but after Thursday night the £83m mooted will seem even more far-fetched.

Nigel De Jong Will Injure Someone

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    The Dutch holding midfielder is infamous for his forceful tackling and has earned the nicknames "The Lawnmower" and "The Terrier" as a result.

    He plays a vital part in the City midfield, playing behind the likes of David Silva and Adam Johnson.

    There are a number of players who have suffered at the hands (or feet) of the 27-year-old, and there can be no doubt that he will up to his usual tricks in Porto.