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Quinn gives knockout kings City the nod to take final step to Champions League crown

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David Silva

David Silva

PA

David Silva

Niall Quinn believes Manchester City need to win the Champions League to join the giants of the modern football, as he backed Pep Guardiola's side to banish their European demons once and for all in the next week.

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Virgin Media Sport analyst and former City striker Quinn believes Guardiola's side could be ready-made to thrive in the revamped version of the Champions League designed to get the competition finished in double-quick time.

City's quest for the only trophy that has eluded them over their last decade of success could reach a crescendo this week, with their quarter-final against Lyon tomorrow the start of a potentially historic week for the blue half of Manchester.

With all remaining Champions League ties being played out as one-off knock-out matches, victory against Lyon will set up a semi-final clash against the winners of tonight's mouth-watering last-eight showdown between Bayern Munich and Barcelona and their story could end with City captain David Silva lifting the famous trophy at Estádio da Luz in Lisbon on Sunday, August 23.

A diluted version of the Champions League could play into City's hands, as they have highlighted their knock-out credentials by dominating competitions on home soil over the last few years, winning six domestic cup tournaments in England since 2014.

Now Quinn is predicting City will click into top gear as they target their dream, with last week's win against Real Madrid highlighting a renewed focus for a side that showed signs of frailty over the course of the English season.

"City are a great cup team and in a one-off match they can blow anyone away, so this new format of the competition could work perfectly for them," stated former Republic of Ireland striker Quinn.

Chance

"They have won the League Cup year after year and their FA Cup final win against Watford last season was as one-sided as we have ever seen, so we know what they can do in cup competitions and now they have a chance to win the big one.

"When I look back at their European campaigns over the last couple of years, I don't think they realise how close they have been to getting to a final and winning it.

"That VAR decision cost them against Tottenham last year and they have been unlucky on other occasions as well, but this feels like it could be their moment.

"This time around the focus will be so much different. In previous years, they were still in other competitions and they were trying to squeeze games in and around the Champions League matches, which affected their preparation and when you are dealing with fine margins against the best sides in Europe, that can have an impact on the final outcome.

"I expect to see a refocused and re-energised City in the final stages of the Champions League. As a former player, I obviously hope they win it and I believe they can."

City have been revolutionised since Quinn's days leading their line, with investors from Abu Dhabi transforming the club's image after they assumed ownership in 2008.

Now the ultimate dream is in their sights and Quinn suggests the target for this season has always been the Champions League after they surrendered their Premier League title to Liverpool.

Admit

"They may not admit it in public and Guardiola has often been coy and sidestepped questions on whether the Champions League is the one they want, but now it is glaringly obvious that this is the big one for the club to go to the next level," continued Quinn.

"This was the ultimate target for the group that bought the club back in 2008. They wanted to win the Champions League and change City's image on the world stage in an instant and this could be the chance for them to do it.

"Winning this competition would put them alongside Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and the great clubs that have won this ultimate prize in European football and they are good enough to do it.

"This is the competition that makes the club now and makes those players more than the legends they already are in the eyes of City fans."

The prospect of City winning UEFA's most glittering prize would be the ultimate riposte to European football's governing body after they imposed a two-year Champions League ban on City earlier this season after they found them guilty of Financial Fair Play breaches.

Ruling

That ruling was overturned by City at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last month and Quinn suggests fate may play a hand to ensure UEFA's President hands the Champions League trophy over to Guardiola and his players.

"Some will argue that it is the club's destiny to win the Champions League and with all the off-field problems the club have had, maybe this group are the ones who can take City to the promised land and win the big European trophy they so badly want and so badly need," he added.

"After everything that happened with the Financial Fair Play situation, maybe this is the year for City."

  • Virgin Media Sport's Festival of Football will continue with full coverage of all Champions League and Europa League matches through to the finals next weekend.