Clubs, FC Basel, Manchester City, Story, UEFA Champions League


Pep Guardiola has dismissed claims his Manchester City side are now at the level of Barcelona.
City are now regarded as Champions League favourites in many quarters having enjoyed an outstanding season to date.
City won the Carabao Cup last month and are now within four wins of claiming the Premier League title having opened up a 16-point lead at the top.
They should also secure a place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday as they go into the second leg of their last-16 tie against Basel holding a 4-0 aggregate lead.
But asked if his side were now a match for his former club Barcelona, City boss Guardiola said: “No, because it is completely different. Their players won a lot in the past, we are new here.
“Now we can say we won one title but it is not good for us comparing with that team. They dominated the last decade – 15-20 years with different managers, different players. Every season they won a lot of things.
“We won just the first title. To think about joining these kind of teams you have to be there a long time. That means many years.”
City may have a commanding lead over Basel but Guardiola will not accept any drop in intensity during the return clash at the Etihad Stadium.
He said: “We start again from zero. We have to be focused not to make a mistake – just be focused on what we have to do, offensively and defensively, to control the game and go through. That is the target.
“Champions League games are something special and you have to be focused. Of course we are delighted with the result we have done but in football everything can happen.”
City are still likely to be without midfielder Fernandinho and forward Raheem Sterling.
The pair are both back in training after hamstring injuries but this game could come too soon. They could both be back in contention for Monday’s Premier League trip to Stoke.
Fabian Delph could return at left-back having served a three-game domestic suspension. Benjamin Mendy (knee), sidelined since September, is back in training and could return this month.
Meanwhile, Basel coach Raphael Wicky hopes his side can do themselves justice on Wednesday.
Overturning the deficit at the Etihad Stadium seems beyond even the most optimistic Basel supporter but Wicky wants to use the experience in a positive way.
Wicky said of City: “At the moment they’re one of the best two teams in the world. I said that when the draw was made and they’ve confirmed that. They’ve maintained it and even improved their form.
“I’ve talked to my team and said, ‘Look, it’s incredible Basel are still playing in Europe in the last 16 of the Champions League at the start of March.
“We’ve worked hard to be here, we’re in a very difficult position but we have to enjoy this game, give our all and forget the first leg.
“I could say, ‘You have to believe’ but it’d look a bit daft in front of the team. We have to set other targets. It starts 0-0 and we have to treat this as two halves and try to get something from the first half and see what happens.”



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