Pep Guardiola has hailed Ilkay Gundogan’s ongoing impact at Manchester City, describing him as ‘a joy’ to manage.

The midfielder returns to his former club Borussia Dortmund tomorrow evening, with City knowing a win in Germany would secure top spot in UEFA Champions League Group G with a game to spare.

Gundogan has become a pivotal player for City – both on and off the pitch – with his teammates voting to install him as club captain this summer, just two months after his final-day double saw City win the Premier League in dramatic fashion with a 3-2 win over Aston Villa.  

His intelligence and technical quality mark him out as one of the shrewdest midfielders in Europe and Guardiola says he is a player he will never forget.

Gundogan was the first player we signed when I became a manager [at City in 2016]. It is a pleasure to work with people like Ilkay,” Guardiola said.

“I will never forget him. For me personally and for the team, he is an incredible football player, always grounded.

Match preview | Borussia Dortmund v City

“He likes to be second position and always you can rely on him 100%. He gave us the Premier League. He can play holding midfielder and attacking midfielder. He is so smart, can talk about the world.

“That is why he was voted by his mates as captain. We are incredibly happy with the decision we made to have him.

“In the first year he had an ACL injury but from the second season when we started winning the titles, he was there. It’s a joy to have these human beings with you.”

Meanwhile, the boss expressed his excitement ahead of tomorrow’s game at Signal Iduna Park, a stadium known for generating one of the best atmospheres in Europe.

And with Dortmund fresh from their 5-0 win over VFB Stuttgart on Saturday, tomorrow’s battle for supremacy in Group G looks set to be intense.

City are currently top, three points ahead of Dortmund, with victory tomorrow guaranteeing top spot.

Guardiola feels finishing first in the group is of huge importance - but says he is under no illusions how difficult it will be against a side he respects. 

“It is a fantastic stadium - everyone knows it - the atmosphere and the attractive football they play,” Guardiola said.

“When I was here in Germany, I played against Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel and it was top.

“Fantastic atmosphere and stadium - happy to come back here.

“We know how difficult it will be.

“Medium block, ability to counter, or more aggressive. It will be a tough, tough game, we know it.

“We are already qualified, and this is the most important thing. Especially with the World Cup but we feel it is important to finish on top of the group.”

Match coverage

As with all first team matches, there will be comprehensive coverage on the official Man City app.

Two hours before kick off, our Matchday Centre will begin providing live text updates, gathering together all the latest team news, stats, analysis and quotes.

And then just before the teams are announced, Matchday Live will begin, with former City players joining us in the studio to offer their insight.

They will be back at half-time and full-time, casting their expert eye over events on the pitch.