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Schalke v City: Champions League Talking Points

FRIENDS REUNITED:  Leroy Sane will be up against his former club Schalke in the Champions League

FRIENDS REUNITED: Leroy Sane will be up against his former club Schalke in the Champions League

Following Manchester City's Champions League last-16 draw with Schalke we look at some of the key talking points...

1 Leroy's reunion date

The two last-16 ties promise to be an especially memorable occasion for Leroy Sane.

Our flying German winger moved to the Etihad from Schalke in the summer of 2016 after three successful seasons there.

The German club are famed for their impressive production line of talent and Sane was proof positive of that, emerging as one of Europe’s most exciting young talents over the course of three seasons, making almost 50 leagues appearances and scoring 11 goals with Schalke.

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The 22-year-old has, of course, gone from strength to strength since moving to Manchester.

He was a key factor in our historic Premier League and Carabao Cup triumphs of 2017/18 and was also voted last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year in 2018.

Leroy tweeted about his excitement immediately after the draw and will no doubt be armed with extra motivation to impress when the ties come round.

Familiar foe

The date with Schalke will also throw up another reunion for the Blues in the shape of Serbian central defender Matija Nastasic.

The 25-year-old spent three years with the Blues between 2012 and 2015 having joined the Club from Fiorentina on transfer deadline day in 2012.

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He went on to be voted the Club’s Young Player of the Year in his debut season, playing in the 2013 FA Cup final against Wigan, and was also part of the City squad that won the 2013/14 Premier League title.

Nastasic left the Blues to join Schalke on loan at the start of 2015 and subsequently sealed a permanent transfer to the Bundesliga side that Spring and has since established himself as a key component in the German side's back-line.

History lessons

The Blues have only encountered Schalke in European combat on two previous occasions and City will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories, having emerged triumphant in both earlier encounters.

We met each other in the semi-final of our 1970 European Cup Winners Cup campaign, chalking up a handsome 5-1 win at Maine Road after a narrow 1-0 loss in Germany.

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By way of a positive omen, the Blues of course then went on to lift the European Cup Winners Cup - beating Gornik Zabrze 2-1 in the final.

The two clubs then met each other again in the 2008 UEFA Cup, with City securing a 2-0 win away at Gelsenkirchen to secure a place in the last 32 thanks to goals from Benjani and Stephen Ireland.

Here’s hoping for a treble triumph!

4 No room for complacency

Domestically, Schalke have endured a frustrating campaign so far and they currently lie in 13th place in the Bundesliga table.

However, as City director of football Txiki Begiristain pointed when commenting on the draw, German clubs always represent formidable opposition.

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“Teams that are struggling in their league have done very well in the Champions League,” Txiki pointed out.

“After a winter break, Schalke will be difficult. They are box-to-box and energetic.”

Home comforts

One of the advantages of topping our group is that the second leg of the last-16 clash will be staged at the Etihad on Tuesday, March 12.

The Blues have established a formidable reputation on home soil and since our surprise 2-1 loss to Lyon in the Champions League group stages back in September, Pep Guardiola’s side have chalked up nine consecutive wins in all competitions.

A late February assignment away in central Germany will be a formidable test of our resolve.

But if the Blues can perform to the impressive standards we have demonstrated so far on our travels, there will be every reason to look forward to the return leg here in Manchester with confidence and belief.

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