Pep Guardiola insists that a place in the Champions League last-eight is the target ahead of Basel battle

Pep Guardiola insists that a place in the Champions League last-eight is the target ahead of Basel battle

The coach has insisted that their only target is to surpass their performance last season.

Danial Kennedy

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has insisted that the club's target in the Champions League is to reach the quarter-final, ahead of their last-16 clash with FC Basel on Tuesday. 

The quarter-final will be enough in the short-term 

City have dominated across all competitions but especially on English shores, as they currently hold a 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League, a place in the fifth round of The FA Cup and a place in the Carabao Cup final. 

This dominance could see them take their foot of the gas slightly ahead of the return to European competition, with City flying to Switzerland on Monday ahead of the clash with the Swiss champions on Tuesday. 

Dominance in the Champions League is the one thing that has eluded The Citizens in recent years, with their best showing coming in the 2015-16 season when they were knocked out in the semi-finals by the eventual winners Real Madrid

City only made it to the last-16 stage last season when they were knocked out AS Monaco, and Guardiola stated pre-match that their only goal is to better their performance from last season and reach the last-eight.  

"I don't know," Guardiola stated when asked if he believes that other sides fear City in the Champions League. "I don't know if we are ready or not." 

"I have full confidence in the guys, there is no doubt about that," the coach proclaimed. "They know it. But the competition is special so I don't know." 

"Our target is to do better than last season which is to go into the quarter-final," he confirmed. "So that will be enough for the short-term." 

"We did better this season than last season, we cannot deny," Guardiola added. "But this competition is so special in my experience. The teams are so clinical and you have to control the bad moments."

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Surprised to see him back 

City gave themselves a confidence boost at the weekend with the comfortable 5-1 victory over Leicester City, but were handed an even bigger surprise with the return of talismanic winger Leroy Sané. 

The German was expected to be out for some time after picking up an injury in the win over Cardiff City at the end of January, only two weeks later, however, the German travelled to Basel with the squad and Guardiola admitted that he was "surprised" to see the 22-year-old back so quickly. 

"I'm surprised," he said on the German's return. "He worked a lot. I could not expect how professional he was and the physio was perfect." 

"He is not in a perfect condition but he wants to help us," Guardiola concluded. "He is with us and that is good news."