City u19s travel to Roma on Tuesday looking to seal a place in the UEFA Youth League last four.
Patrick Vieira’s young charges have won every single game in this competition so far which has seen them pitted against the cream of the continent’s youth talent. After taking maximum points in the group stages, City won a place in the quarter finals with a dramatic victory over Schalke on penalties at the Academy Stadium.
A trip to the Italian capital was the reward, and Jose Angel Pozo has his sights firmly set on a semi-final berth in European youth football’s most prestigious competition.
The Spanish forward has had a memorable season after making his first team debut earlier in the campaign, clocking up three Premier League appearances and notching his first senior goal.
Now, in this first season at the CFA, he is keen to keep City EDS fighting for silverware in three competitions at home and abroad.
Pozo told mcfc.co.uk: “The Youth League is a very good competition, almost a ‘mini Champions League’. For this club every game is important and we play the next game as if it was the last one.
“To be in the top four would give status to the club and to the players and for us it’s very important to qualify.”
City faced off against Roma home and away in the group stages, winning 2-1 in Manchester and scoring four without reply in the return game in Italy.
However, while Pozo admits the team is confident after back-to-back victories, he warns that the hosts will be fielding a strong team looking to avenge those past results.
He declared: “We know that it will be a very hard game with difficult conditions. Roma are a good team even if we beat them twice in the group stages.
“I think they will be very motivated because they have lost twice against us so we need to be at our best to deal with that situation.
“But we are unbeaten, having won every game and we have produced some great performances. We have won two games in a row now against Schalke and Fulham and the team is confident.”
Skipper Kean Bryan played every single minute of both matches against the Italians, but says it’s important to forget what has gone before with just 90 minutes separating both teams from a place in the semi-finals, to be held in Nyon, Switzerland.
Said the midfielder: “It’s a one off game, it’s winner takes all and goes through to the semi-finals. It’s a very important game for us and we can’t wait to get to Rome and play.
“To play on the European stage is fantastic and it’s going to be shown on Eurosport as well so there will be a lot of people watching. It’s great for us youngsters to go places like Rome to play in a competition like this. It’s fantastic.”
Twelve months’ ago, City were knocked out of the inaugural year of the competition by Benfica at this same stage. Foiled by a sensational goalkeeping performance by the Portuguese stopper and two second half goals, Kean is keen to make amends and avoid any feeling of déjà vu.
“Last year we were knocked out by Benfica in the quarters and I played in that as well, so we are desperate to win this time,” Bryan revealed. “But this year we have a really good squad and we are capable of going far in this competition.”
Roma v Manchester City u19s will be screened live on Eurosport at 5pm (GMT). We’ll have live coverage on twitter as well as a full match report shortly after full time.