Manchester

Man City can steal Premier League advantage by beating Borussia Dortmund in Champions League – Alex Brotherton

City got their group stage campaign off to the ideal start last week by recording a thumping 4-0 win away at Sevilla, theoretically the second strongest side in Group G. The manner of City's win – the ease with which they controlled proceedings and created chances – can be regarded as a statement of intent, a sure sign to the other top sides in the competition that City are not lacking confidence despite last season's traumatic semi-final exit.

Getting off to a good start is important in any competition; while it does not guarantee success by the end of the campaign, it builds momentum and allows confidence to swell. City will look to build on that at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday; if they do so then they will be in a strong position to wrap up top spot in the group before the final match. More so than any previous season, that could be mightily important.

As we all know, this season is going to be unlike any other. While footballers have become accustomed to packed fixture schedules with little time for recovery, the demands of playing at a World Cup mid-season are another thing entirely.

By the time the Premier League pauses in mid-November and many of City's players fly off to Qatar, the Blues will have played 15 of their 38 Premier League matches (it would have been 16 if Saturday's home game against Spurs had taken place).

Who knows what kind of state City's stars will be in when they return from international duty, so the remaining 23 outings could be trickier than usual. If Pep Guardiola's side are to make themselves a bit of a safety net, then the more points they can get on the board before the World Cup, the better.

If they are to do that then being able to turn most of their attention to league matches, rather than the Champions League, would help. If they can wrap up qualification for the last-16 of the competition after just four or five games then there will be one or two matches worth of slack in the system, allowing Pep to rest key players ahead of key league outings.

Following their 4-1 defeat to Napoli last week, Liverpool are unlikely to secure qualification any sooner than matchday six. If City can do so sooner then they might steal a slight league advantage on Jurgen Klopp's side.