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Media Watch: City tipped for European glory

REUNION: Leroy Sane heads back to his old stomping ground, as City travel to Schalke...

REUNION: Leroy Sane heads back to his old stomping ground, as City travel to Schalke...

The Champions League is back!

As we enter another week, we welcome yet another switch in focus, as City continue our assault on all four competitions.

We feature in them all in February – a potentially season-defining month – with the task at hand an eagerly-awaited trip to Schalke in the last 16 of Europe’s elite Club tournament on Wednesday night.

Heading into the clash in excellent form, the footballing world are expecting Pep Guardiola’s side to produce a show of our title-winning credentials in Germany.

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The tie heralds the return of familiar faces for both sides, with Leroy Sane revisiting his old stomping ground, set to potentially lock horns with former Blue Matija Nastasic – and the Serbian defender is relishing the opportunity to face the Premier League Champions.

“I have a lot of memories of my time in Manchester,” he reflected with Schalke’s official website. “Looking back, I had two very enjoyable years at City.

“We are facing one of the best teams in the whole of Europe. City basically don’t have any weaknesses – they score lots of goals, are technically amazing, press effectively and have great players in every position.

“We won’t let ourselves be beaten for kick-off. Obviously, it’s not going to be easy and we know we will go into the game as the underdogs. Despite that, we still have a chance. With our fans behind us, we will give everything we’ve got.

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“For me they have continually improved. The football they play is sometimes incredible. There’s barely a team that is as good as them.

“Their squad has changed just like ours has, but there are a number of backroom staff who are still at the club.

“I hope we will have some time to meet up before the game. At the moment, the only important thing is the 90 minutes, which I am fully focused on!”

On Sane’s reunion, Nastasic added: “Leroy is great player and person and he is always welcome in Gelsenkirchen and this time will be no different."

Echoing the sentiments, Royal Blues’ captain Ralf Faehrmann declared: “Every Schalke supporter is happy to see him play again – even though it’s for the wrong team.

"Every Schalke and German football fan should be proud of him. He played a fantastic season last year.”

Previewing the clash, as reported by the Manchester Evening News, Faehrmann continued: “City is a great team! We have to go beyond our borders, over perform and City must have not their best day.

"In football, everything is possible. We need to be calm and wait for the tiny moments – counter-attacks, corners and other set pieces.”

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Striker-turned-TV pundit Gary Lineker is backing City to progress to the quarter-finals, while former England manager Fabio Capello is tipped the Blues to lift the trophy.

Lineker told iNews: “City are still going on four fronts. Sometimes that can be too much as we saw last season.

“They still won the league and the Carabao Cup. City are strong favourites in this tie and one of the favourites for the competition.

Sergio Aguero is firing again and some of their best players like Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva are coming back to full fitness. Pep Guardiola can tinker without ever having to reduce the overall quality of his side.

“They are in much better shape to compete this year. They have more experience, which is the one thing you need in this competition. But it’s a knockout competition so that’s why you can’t judge a manager if it doesn’t quite happen.

“Pep has won the Champions League twice, semi-finals a couple of times with Bayern.

“I don’t feel for one minute he’d be under pressure if he didn’t succeed this year, but perceptions of him as a manager would be even greater if he were to win it with a different club. And he has a great chance. City have a great draw and are best placed among the English clubs to reach the quarter-finals.”

Interviewed by Sports Mole, Capbello opined: "For me, Man City. This year I've seen a lot of games that they've played.

“I think they have a different mentality, they play different football, not tiki-taka but they go forward to the goal.

"After Man City then it is Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus. And now, after their game against Manchester United, PSG.

"Guardiola is an intelligent guy. He understands what he needs to improve every year. They have bought a lot of good players, young players.

“He understands that last year the players understood the style that he plays and what they have to do to play the fast counter-attack."

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It’s a packed Monday media watch, reflecting the fact we are now at business end of the season with City resuming midweek Champions League combat in Schalke before next Sunday’s Carabao Cup final with Chelsea.

All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from across this morning's back pages...