Men's Team

The best is still to come, says Ake

Nathan Ake believes City can still get better in the closing months of the 2022/23 season.

The Dutch defender has been crucial to Pep Guardiola’s side throughout the campaign and in the 7-0 win over Leipzig on Tuesday helped keep four consecutive clean sheets for the first time this season.

That victory emphatically decided our Round of 16 tie with the German club and ensured progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the sixth consecutive season.

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Having been 3-0 up at half-time, we killed the game off early in the second half before five-goal hero Erling Haaland was substituted in the 63rd minute. We also managed to reduce our visitors to just one shot on target.

Ake stated that Guardiola asked his players to take the game to their opponents after a hard-fought draw in Germany last month.

“We knew it was going to be a different game than the first one,” he said.

“We just wanted to go for it straight away and show them we want to win. We did that, went at them and we pressed them extremely high and didn’t give them any space.

“There was a lot of energy in the first 30 minutes. After the 1-0 and 2-0 we didn’t stop, and we just continued and felt really confident. We didn’t give them any reason to come back into the game.

“They’re a strong team but defensively we were solid, we didn’t let them come back and we controlled it. It was a perfect performance.

“The more we play with each other the more we get to know each other and understand the game and the way the manager wants to play – I think it can only get better.”

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We will discover our quarter-final opponents on Friday when the draw is made in Nyon.

With the trophy still to play for in the FA Cup and Premier League as well as the Champions League, Ake is more focused on ensuring City are doing everything right than worrying about who we will face.

“The only thing we can control is ourselves,” he said.

“The last two months will all be important matches. We want to go as far as possible so we’re not going to listen too much on the outside, we will focus on what we can control and hopefully we can go very far. From now on there are no bad teams in the competition so it’s going to be tough.”

Haaland’s showing on Tuesday made him just the third man in Champions League history to score five goals in a single match.

The Norwegian is now our record scorer for a single season with 39 goals and Ake couldn’t be more impressed with his team-mate.

“He’s a machine,” the defender stated.

“He’s been so important for us – an incredible talent and only 22. He does everything off the pitch right and to make sure he is able to play every three days and perform at the highest level – treatment every day and always coming early and leaving late to be treated really well.

“We know the talent he has; he’s scored so many goals and hopefully he can continue as long as possible. He gave us a lot off the ball as well – pressed high and worked very high.

“If he continues like this, no one is going to stop him.”