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Media Watch: ‘Guardiola is a serial winner’

'SERIAL WINNER': Pep Guardiola receives more high praise from a City legend...

'SERIAL WINNER': Pep Guardiola receives more high praise from a City legend...

With the return of the Champions League, there’s one topic on everyone’s lips (or pages) in the City-centric headlines: tonight’s trip to Hoffenheim.

The Blues face the German outfit in Matchday Two of Group F, having lost the opener against Lyon at home, while Julian Nagelsmann’s side held Shakhtar Donetsk to a 2-2 draw.

In the build-up to the encounter – the first competitive meeting between the two sides – the game has been billed as a ‘must-win’ for City, but the Hoffenheim coach insists he has a plan to combat his much-admired opposition counterpart.

As the Daily Mail’s Andy Hampson reports: “Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann is looking forward to measuring himself against Pep Guardiola as his side host Manchester City in the Champions League.

“Nagelsmann, 31, is rated as one of the best up-and-coming managers in the German game and has already agreed to take over at RB Leipzig next season after impressing in his two-and-a-half years at Hoffenheim.

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“Appointed at the age of just 28 in 2016, Nagelsmann guided the club to fourth in the Bundesliga in 2017 and third last season, taking them into the Champions League for the first time.

“Now he faces City's much-decorated former Bayern Munich boss Guardiola for the first time in a Group F clash at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.”

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Nagelsmann told journalists: “I play against Pep Guardiola for the first time and, from his professional career, he is a good point of reference.

“I'm really looking forward to our first Champions League game at home. Until now I've been feeling fairly normal and we've been concentrating on training but, as of tonight [Monday night], there'll certainly be plenty of excitement.

“Man City expect to win the game and I'm expecting them to focus on their strengths, but we've come up with a very brave plan.

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“There will not be a battle of tactics. Our main strength is our style of play and everyone who takes the field for us will be brave in possession. We will look forward with anticipation and courage.”

Meanwhile, Media Referee’s Audrick Kramer has singled out one City player, believed to be the key to overcoming the German outfit.

An article reads: “The Champions League newcomers will not make life easy and one can expect them to play their natural game without the burden of expectations.

“However, City will be the hot favourites and Pep Guardiola must be keen on getting back to winning ways in the Champions League.

“And he should bank on the brilliance of Raheem Sterling, who joined the club for £49m, to achieve the desired results.

“Raheem Sterling has been in red-hot form this season and has been City’s most influential figure in the final third.

“Not only has he linked up effectively with Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva to craft some amazing attacking moves but has also tormented the opposition’s defence with lung-busting runs coupled with wonderful dribbling skills.

“In the last game, he used every bit of his pace and showed commitment to make the most of Leroy Sane’s cross and gave Manchester City the lead with a clinical finish.

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“His pace, agility and athleticism are bound to ask questions of a Hoffenheim backline that hasn’t been in the best of form in recent times.”

Elsewhere, Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas predicts Sergio Aguero will be the star man, with Leroy Sane also eager to perform on home soil.

He stated: “Hoffenheim won at the weekend, while Pep Guardiola is not fully happy with his lot currently – he's clearly feeling they are not as clinical as they should be and I'd agree with his concerns there.

“City have to attack and have to win this one after the Lyon defeat. They cannot lose more ground to them and I'd expect a comfortable win, with Sergio Aguero getting a goal.

“Hoffenheim are dangerous, but Manchester City won't change their ways and will have too much for them.

“Leroy Sane will want to do well and impress. He doesn't seem to be as rated in Germany as he is by English fans and I think that could motive him and be a key difference.”

Finally, Blues legend Paul Dickov asserts European glory would be the pinnacle of City’s success – even greater than domestic dominance.

Quoted in Four Four Two, the former striker declared: “I would take both!

"Back-to-back Premier Leagues, it is so difficult to do, but I think if you look at the Champions League – where I feel we were really close last year and unlucky in the Liverpool games last season – the Champions League has to be the pinnacle.

"Look what they did last season – every competition they took very seriously – Pep Guardiola, the way he is, he's a serial winner and he will want to win in every competition he competes in."

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