Pep Guardiola’s men travel to the home of 13-time winners Real Madrid in Wednesday night’s eagerly-awaited semi-final second leg clash, holding a precious 4-3 lead from an enthralling encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
De Bruyne opened the scoring on that memorable night in Manchester and says that although his side are ‘better prepared’ for the task than in previous years, last season’s first-time Finalists will need to give their all to secure our spot in this month’s showpiece in Paris.
“I think if we play the way we played last week, we have the potential to be one of the best teams but we have to show that,” April's Etihad Player of the Month De Bruyne stated.
“If we play below that, Madrid can win because they are also one of the best teams and the quality they have is amazing.
“But I back my team to perform at the high level needed to win the game tomorrow.
“I think we are in a very good way. The fact we have not won it yet is the only criticism we can get. The rest, we have been there loads of times, fighting to win it.
“The consistency has been amazing, pretty much as good as anyone else. We just need to get over the line and [Wednesday] is another step.
“I am thinking we are in better shape now. I remember when we played [in the 2016 semi-final trip to Real Madrid] it wasn't the greatest end to the season.
“Madrid was a powerhouse at that time. We lost 1-0 in the end with an own goal. It was a pretty boring game.
“We are in better shape now. I think we are a better team with a better set-up, we play better and we have more experience now. Hopefully, we are better prepared.
“No matter the game, we are well prepared. It doesn't matter if it is the League Cup against a lower league side, it’s the same amount of detail. It’s easier to watch a Madrid game on TV than a team from the lower leagues. Whatever the game, we want to win but the detail is pretty much the same – no matter what the game.
“It’s two attacking teams who like to play football. We played a very good game back then but that’s in the past. We have a different game ahead of tomorrow and it starts back to 0-0 so we need our A-game to win.
“It’s a game everyone wants to see. Everybody is anticipating a great game and we will try and bring out the best we have and hopefully progress to Paris.”
De Bruyne has been in sensational form this term with seven goals in his last ten games in all competitions.
The Belgian playmaker was rested for Saturday’s 4-0 triumph over Leeds United and says he is feeling good, thriving on regular minutes and rekindling his best form after injury.
“’Fresh’ in the end of the season is always debatable but I feel good,” he added. “I got a lot of kicks in the Atletico [Madrid] game and some after but I feel fine.
“I've been playing well, playing lots of games so I am happy.
“The first months were really hard. I’d never experienced the pain I experienced back then. I was trying to come back but I was in pain with my ankle every day.
“It wasn't something I enjoyed. Mentally, it was hard also to overcome that but once the pain was gone after a few months, I started to feel more confident in myself, in my body and get back to where I belong.
“Now playing all these games week in, week out, I feel back to the level I was at before. I try to be as constant as I can and this year, I have managed myself pretty well.
“I am lucky to come across a manager who plays the way I like to play – that makes it handy for me. He doesn't look at individual basis – it's whatever suits the team. It depends on game to game: sometimes, I have been lower back, at other times higher; in the side, the middle… Whatever the team needs, I will help.”
Asked whether he and the City squad ‘need’ a Champions League trophy to complete a remarkable period of sustained success, De Bruyne admitted the feat would change how the Club were viewed but asserts it would not affect the way he views himself.
“It would change the perspective,” he said. “As a player, you want to win the trophies and we want this one.
“We have fought for it for numerous years and been to the latter stages, and we have been doing well.
“Obviously, it’s a cup competition and the quality is really high so it’s very difficult to win it and there are different circumstances but if you look at how we have performed in the last seven years, we've done really well. If we win it, it would change the narrative.
“For myself. It doesn't change how I look at myself as a player. I know what I have done: good and bad in my career. I’m pretty happy with what I have done.
“Obviously, I want to win every trophy but that's a hard task. I would obviously love to win the Champions League.”