Riyad Mahrez claims Manchester City can FINALLY win the Champions League this season

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A new documentary focused on Riyad Mahrez was released by Manchester City yesterday and inevitably he addressed the big unknown: can they finally win the Champions League?

‘We are a team built for these special moments,’ Mahrez said. ‘We have to win this trophy that everyone wants. We are players that can make the difference at key moments. And I am one of them.’

City must hope he is right. In the absence of the talismanic Kevin De Bruyne – left back home unwell along with defender Aymeric Laporte – they need somebody else to step up in Saxony on Wednesday. Whether it is Mahrez, Phil Foden or Erling Haaland, Pep Guardiola will not care.

On the surface, RB Leipzig looked the mildest draw of those pitted against Premier League teams in the last 16, but the Germans have lost just once in all competitions since September and remain in the Bundesliga title race – four points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Their best players, Christian Nkunku and Josko Gvardiol, are both courted by free-spending Chelsea, and City lost in this stadium last year, a dead rubber for which Guardiola selected a strong side.

The group games between the teams yielded 12 goals; Leipzig got five of them, including an Nkunku hat-trick in a 6-3 blockbuster at the Etihad Stadium. They are no slouches.

‘Right after the draw I knew it, I felt it, they would be really tough,’ Guardiola said. ‘For many years this club has its own culture, with young players and their recruitment, with physicality and a clear pattern to play.

‘With German football, they make the transitions that are unstoppable. We have huge respect for what this club has done. Last season we won at home but struggled with Nkunku.’

That praise for Marco Rose’s team could be seen as playing down expectations, which Guardiola has had a habit of during his seven years in charge. Yet the 52-year-old has reached a point of realisation now that nothing he says will ever have that effect when it comes to the perception of this club and his own career.

‘I would say that if my career finishes tomorrow, literally tomorrow, I would be more than blessed and grateful for what I have done with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here,’ he added. ‘I could never have expected to have the career I have had in a short time. Not just for the success we had, but also the way we play – I love it. I could not ask for more.

‘At the end, destiny is already written. Sometimes we have been close, sometimes not. I have the feeling that what we have done, all of us, is going to fail. Whatever I have done personally in the past or in the future, I am going to fail. Nothing will be enough [for critics].

‘So when I learned that, just have fun, enjoy being in this press conference, then after a nice dinner with good wine and watch Real Madrid and Liverpool and a little bit of Napoli, prepare well for the game and let’s go guys, let’s try to do it again.’

Without De Bryune, there are decisions to make. Foden through the middle is not an option often used, but he does excel there, while Julian Alvarez or Ilkay Gundogan are also capable of feeding off Haaland in advanced positions.

Guardiola was again forced to defend their style of play with the 32-goal striker last night, while Rose will come up against the Norwegian for the first time since managing him at Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund.

‘His body was different – now you see him and he looks like Thor,’ said Rose, who helped Haaland develop his heading at Dortmund. ‘I think his mentality is if he sees the goal he is getting crazy about scoring but he always works for the team. He improved a lot in his game, his technical side and the movement. Now he is playing for one of best in the world and he is becoming a world-class player.’

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