Manchester City have a chance to take “an incredible step” towards the last 16 of the Champions League when they play Club Brugge at home on Wednesday, says City boss Pep Guardiola.
City, second in the competition last season, are second in Group A, one point behind leaders Paris St-Germain and two ahead of the Belgian team.
Guardiola’s team thrashed Club Brugge 5-1 last month away.
“We have to take it seriously to make a good performance,” the Spaniard said.
“This match gives us an incredible step forward to qualify for the Champions League Round of 16.”
The top two in each group enter the knockout phase of the tournament and a win for City will leave them five points ahead of Club Brugge in third place with two games left.
City play rivals Manchester United on Saturday (12:30 GMT), but Guardiola insisted he would not overlook the Champions League match.
“This is more important than United,” he added. “In the Premier League there are many matches, here only six [in the group] and three left. They are crucial in the third and fourth – the most important matches. “
City are in third place in the Premier League, but lost 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, where the defeat came three days after they had been beaten on penalties by West Ham in the round of 16 of the Carabao Cup.
Guardiola, who has no injury problems, however, is not worried about the form of the site.
He said: “We’re playing at an incredible level for the last month and a half – one of the best moments since we’ve been here, the way we play.
“Football is a game of winning and losing, I’m only worried about the way we play to win games in a row.
“The defeat was hard, but it’s football that’s happening.”
Club Brugge started their Champions League campaign with a 1-1 draw against Paris St-Germain before a 2-1 away win against RB Leipzig, and the loss to City was only one of two they have suffered in 17 matches in all tournaments.
Head to head
- City have won six of their seven matches against Belgian opponents in European competition (lost one), including a 5-1 victory in their only previous meeting with Club Brugge.
- City have won 80% of their home Champions League since Pep Guardiola took charge of the club (20/25 – draw two, lost three). Among those with 20+ managed home games, this is the highest winning percentage of a coach with a single club in the competition.
- Phil Foden, who lined up for Manchester City’s opener last time out, has six assists in the Champions League. The only player with several assists before turning 22 for English clubs is Cesc Fabregas (10 for Arsenal between 2006 and 2009).
- Jack Grealish has created more chances after carries (moves five or more yards with the ball) than any other player in the Champions League this season. Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior (10) is the only player who has been directly involved in more shots than Grealish (nine – three shots, six chances created) after a ball carrying.
- No team has completed a sequence of 10+ passes on fewer occasions than Club Brugge (six) in the Champions League this season. Meanwhile, since the start of last season, Manchester City have made more than any other team (361).
- Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 24 goals in 27 home games for City in the Champions League and scored 15 goals with nine assists. Only Sergio Aguero (27) has several combined goals and assists for the club in home games in the competition.
- Club Brugge are looking for their first win against English opponents in European competition since February 1995 (1-0 against Chelsea in the Cup Winners’ Cup), after failing to win any of their last 13 attempts (draw three, losing 10) .
- Club Brugge have never won away from home against an English team in European competition, while this will be their 14th attempt to do so. They have lost 11 of their previous 13 such matches and have drawn twice.
- Since losing five consecutive away games in the Champions League between November 2005 and October 2018, they have only lost two of their nine such matches since (winning three, drawing four). The Belgian team will look to record consecutive away victories for the very first time in the Europa Cup / Champions League.