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Men's Team

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Trophy target, home comforts and Clough’s comeback

GAB JOY: The team congratulate Gabriel Jesus on his opener

GAB JOY: The team congratulate Gabriel Jesus on his opener

Analysing the key topics for discussion, ahead of tonight's Carabao Cup semi-final first leg...

1Up for the Cup

Reigning Champions City certainly cannot be accused of undervaluing the League Cup, having lifted the trophy three times in six years.

Our Wembley success against Arsenal in February 2018 heralded the first trophy of Pep Guardiola’s reign and handed the Blues a huge boost, ahead of the Premier League run-in.

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READ: Guardiola confirms Mendy boost

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The joy was evident for all to see in the post-match celebrations, as the players savoured the taste of glory, providing extra motivation (if any were needed!) to secure the league title in blistering fashion.

Lifelong Blue Phil Foden holds special memories of the day, asserting the euphoria 'helped' the Blues along the journey to Premier League greatness, so repeating the feat could also prove beneficial in the title race.

Fresh from Sunday’s 7-0 FA Cup thrashing of Rotherham, the City Football Academy is buzzing with ‘Cup fever’... Bring it on!

SEVEN UP: Leroy Sane is congratulated after his late strike

Highlights

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City 7-0 Rotherham: Brief highlights

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2Home is where the heart is

With the first leg taking place at the Etihad Stadium, City are presented with the chance to gain a strong advantage to take back to the Pirelli Stadium.

For the first time since 1980, the away goals rule will not apply with an immediate penalty shoot-out set to prove decisive, should the tie end level on aggregate after the second leg.

Still, regardless of the fact a Burton goal would not hold the advantage of previous years, a victory and clean sheet tonight could prove pivotal, potentially relieving the pressure somewhat ahead of the second leg.

Certainly, ensuring the Blues attain the best chance of another Wembley trip with minimal sacrifice will be imperative in Guardiola’s eyes.

3Mention the VAR

Love it or hate it, video technology is now part of the game.

When it benefits your team, it’s the greatest invention known to man; when it goes against you, it’s the worst.

It proved decisive in last night’s last four encounter between Tottenham and Chelsea, as Harry Kane netted from the spot, after VAR was employed to determine whether the striker had strayed offside in the build-up.

It will be available again tonight. How significant its involvement will be, only time will tell.

4Youthful exuberance?

Guardiola has fielded a mixture of youth and experience in this season’s Carabao Cup journey, handing valuable minutes to Foden, Aro Muric, Eric Garcia, Claudio Gomes, Adrian Bernabe and the newly-departed Brahim Diaz in previous rounds.

With a place at Wembley up for grabs, will Guardiola continue to ring the changes? Or adopt a more recognised starting XI? We’ll know at roughly 6:45pm…

5A Clough nut to crack

Tonight’s encounter welcomes a familiar face back to his former Club, as Nigel Clough takes his place in the opposition dugout.

Clough – the son of the legendary Brian, of course – made 45 appearances for City between 1996 and 1998 and boasts an impressive League Cup record.

In addition to winning the trophy twice during his playing days (plus the fact his father lifted it four times with Nottingham Forest), Clough Junior has also led three different lower league clubs to domestic semi-finals as manager of Derby, Sheffield United and now Burton.

The Brewers provide a new test for the Blues, with the two sides never having met competitively - but with the pressure on City and seeing as the Midlands outfit defeated Shrewsbury Town, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough and Burnley as underdogs on their route to the semis, complacency cannot rear its head.

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