Sunday 20 January 2019

Milner: We're Euro ready

Midfielder James Milner believes Manchester City are now capable of making a big impression in the Champions League.

City begin their latest challenge in Europe's elite competition as they face German giants and five-time champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena tomorrow.

The Premier League winners reached the knockout stage of the event for the first time last season, after two previous failures, and are now aiming higher.

Milner said: "I think year on year we should get better and we will keep improving the more experience we have as a group in the Champions League.

"It is a lot of games that we have played now, a lot that we have learnt over the years that we have been in it.

"So I think having won the Premier League a couple of times, and been fortunate enough to win every trophy domestically, we now want to prove ourselves on the European stage."

"And I believe we have a good enough team to do that."

Milner certainly feels City have nothing to fear from Bayern, despite their illustrious reputation, as they are now familiar foes.

City were drawn in the same group as the Germans in both 2011-12 and last season and they won on their last trip to Bavaria - when Milner scored the winner in a memorable 3-2 success - last December.

The England international said: "We should know them pretty well. We have played them quite a lot over the last few years, even in friendlies. So we know they are a top team.

"We beat them at their place last year, so we should take a lot of confidence from that and go into the game with no fear, knowing that we have been there before and got three points."

One area where City's inexperience showed last season was in their misinterpretation of the goal difference rule.

They went into that game at Bayern knowing they had already qualified but not realising that by scoring one more goal, and winning 4-2, they could have topped the group.

That could potentially have earned them an easier ride in the first knockout round instead of coming up against another formidable opponent in Barcelona.

Milner, 28, said: "You never get too far ahead, you look a game at a time and start there. Obviously we have to start well in the group and hopefully build from that.

"First and foremost you want to get out of the group. If we can win it as well, obviously that helps going forward.

"We obviously encountered a tough knockout stage last year from not quite getting that extra goal in Munich, which would have got us over the line and won us the group, so that is something to learn from as well."

Despite the failure to score that extra goal, Milner believes the manner of the victory, in which City recovered from 2-0 down, proved that they can compete.

He said: "I think we started the game terribly - first 15 minutes, I think (we were) 2-0 down.

"Playing against the European champions, I do not think there are many teams that would have come back from that. That would have been game done.

"But that shows the character and quality that we have in the squad. To have that mental strength to come back and win the game was massive."

City also face CSKA Moscow and Roma in Group E.


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