LONDON – Champions League holders Manchester City are “favourites at every stage of the competition, until the semi-finals”, according to former City and England defender Joleon Lescott.
The centre-back, who played 160 games for City from 2009 to 2014, winning two English Premier League titles, says a key reason for this is that manager Pep Guardiola has “eradicated complacency”.
Speaking ahead of City’s last-16, first-leg clash at Copenhagen on Feb 13, he said on TNT Sports: “It’s a tough place to go with a great atmosphere and they use that to their advantage. They’re a good team and well-organised.
“I do believe that City have enough for most teams or pretty much any team over two legs, because they average two goals a game maybe, which means you’re having to score three or four. They will be the favourites at every stage of the competition, until the semi-finals – if they progress that far...
“Since Pep came in... he has eradicated complacency and they are super-efficient... The opposition has to play at their absolute maximum and it still might not be enough.”
The return of the European football comes at the perfect time for City with Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne’s comebacks from injury making the holders look formidable.
Guardiola’s men head to Parken Stadium on the back of 10 consecutive wins in all competitions.
A run that began while Haaland and de Bruyne were still sidelined by injury has only gained momentum since they made their return.
Haaland scored his first goals since November as City eventually broke down Everton to win 2-0 at the Etihad on Feb 10.
De Bruyne had started on the bench with the Champions League in mind, as Guardiola manages the Belgian’s minutes after his season began with a hamstring tear that ruled him out for five months.
But the 32-year-old has looked like his old self since returning, with seven goal contributions in eight games this season.
De Bruyne was the provider for Haaland’s second goal on Feb 10 and the Norwegian is delighted to have ...