Premier League leaders Manchester City will be looking to join local rivals Manchester United in the quarter finals of the champions league when they face Bundesliga strugglers Schalke in their last 16 second leg game at the Etihad Stadium tonight.
After coming from behind to dramatically take the first leg 2-3 thanks to Raheem Sterling’s goal in the final minute of normal time the current Premier League Champions are seen as one of the favourites for this year’s title as they look to do better than last years knock out at the quarter final stage.
In the pre-match talk, City boss Pep Guardiola described his side that have never won the champions league as the “teenagers in the competition” he continued to say;
“We cannot deny how strong other teams are, you have to dream, to point as high as possible and at the same time accept there are other teams thinking the same.”
With the Champions league giants Real Madrid ending their three year reign in the competition with defeat at Ajax last season, French giants PSG losing out to a stunning fight back from Manchester United and last year’s semi-finalist Roma falling to a injury time penalty at Porto This could be City’s best ever change of rewriting the history books.
However, Guardiola who has won this trophy before is looking to keep expectations low;
“All the clubs that are in the knockout stages want to win this title. It is difficult,” said Guardiola. “This competition is judged that when you are out of the last 16 it is a big disaster. My perspective is completely different.
“People say it is easy. Imagine getting into the last eight teams in Europe? Of course, we want to win it, but the other teams also have this desire. People think that because Real Madrid are not there, this competition will be easy. Of course, I thought they were the favourites but there still remains incredible clubs to beat.”
For their opposition head coach Domenico Tedesco has more than champions league glory on his mind after he was told by the clubs Sporting director that he has ‘two’ games to save his job following the clubs poor run of form which see’s them now just four points clear of the Bundesliga relegation zone.
Regarding team news City will be without the suspended duo of Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho, while defender John Stones will be assessed as late as possible on a groin injury before Guardiola names his team.
On a plus for the City side experienced defender Aymeric Laporte has recovered from his hamstring issues and could play some part in tonight’s game.
The visitors also have their disciplinary issues with forward Mark Uth and midfielder Amine Harit both being left out of tonight’s squad. Although full back Hamza Mendyl has been included and is expected to be named in the starting side.