Men's Team

Rodrigo: City a 'much better' team since Champions League final defeat

Rodrigo believes losing last season’s Champions League final has made Manchester City a more complete team.

Our European campaign resumes with a trip to Sporting CP on Tuesday for the first leg of our last-16 tie and the Spanish midfielder is certain we travel there a considerably better side following our defeat to Chelsea last May.

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The 25-year-old feels experiencing the pressure of the latter stages of the competition has propelled Pep Guardiola’s men to new levels as we bid to go one step further this season.

“I think we are a much better side now because we have the experience,” he said.

“We didn't have that experience in this kind of situation before, most of the players hadn't played a semi-final or a final in the competition.

“Now, we have reached those stages and we know the feeling. Football isn't always about quality.

“We are all human and when we arrive at those situations, the pressure is high and we must deal with it.

“Now, we have the experience, I think we are more complete as a team.”

City head to the Portuguese capital in fine form having won 18 of our last 20 games in all competitions and with a healthy lead at the top of the Premier League.

Rodrigo is predicting a stern test from a side sitting second in the Primeira Liga and who edged out Borussia Dortmund in Group C for a place in the knockout stage.

However, the defensive midfielder thinks City must focus on our game rather than the opposition and, having made a superb start to the campaign, he says it’s vital we continue to improve as we enter the business end of the season.

“The Champions League is always the same. We now face Sporting, they are going to be a tough side, like always,” he added.

“We hope we can get a good result in the first game and then face the second leg at home with an advantage.

“It's always open. It's always the same thing; in the Champions League, anything can happen.

“I like to focus on ourselves, the way we are developing this season, the way we are improving since we started.

“We know this is the most important part of the season, the second half of the season, and we have learned about the previous years.

“We can't do great for 75 per cent of the season and then drop until the end. You need to be at 100 per cent until the end. We are focused on that goal.”

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