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Manchester City must avoid one team to win the Champions League, insists former star



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Former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott has insisted that Pep Guardiola and his players can retain the Champions League if they avoid one team in the competition.

City are on the verge of reaching yet another UEFA Champions League quarter-final, holding a significant 3-1 advantage over FC Copenhagen heading into Wednesday night’s last-16 second-leg against the Danish club.

This will be the final round of the tournament that prevents teams from the same country facing one another, meaning that Manchester City could face Premier League title rivals Arsenal in the quarter-finals should both teams qualify.

Speaking exclusively to TNT Sports this week, Joleon Lescott has admitted that while he is ‘confident’ that Manchester City can retain the UEFA Champions League title this season, they must avoid Premier League rivals Arsenal in order to do so.

“I’m confident for (Manchester) City to win (the UEFA Champions League) as long as they avoid Arsenal,” admitted Lescott. “We’ll probably expect every predictable team to go through the tie – Arsenal and Porto are fairly similar in terms of their league stature – but I think that Arsenal would understand and have slightly less respect and fear for Man City.”

He continued, “With Real Madrid, as much as they are the team for the Champions League, they’re not used to playing the way City make you play. Whether you like it or not, whoever you are – Bayern Munich, PSG, Real Madrid – you’re going to be pushed back and are you used to that?

“Are you used to defending for 70% of the game rather than being in possession? I think Arsenal have a better understanding of that so over two legs, I think they have a better chance than other teams. In a final, you just don’t know.”

Delving deeper into the tactical elements of a potential meeting with Arsenal and why a clash with Mikel Arteta’s side over two legs in Europe could be more problematic, Lescott said he would be less nervous facing Real Madrid.

“I don’t think Arsenal are the best fitted to beat everyone else,” the 41-year-old admitted. “I think City’s worst team they could face, would be Arsenal (over two-legs). I would be more nervous facing Arsenal than against Real Madrid.”

He continued to TNT Sports, “Now (Manchester City) have got over the hurdle of winning it. You could see in the home leg (last season), as soon as Vinicius Jr realised he wasn’t going to run Kyle Walker, it was deflation in the whole team. That doesn’t happen.

“There was the realisation that this is going to be a long day. As great as Carlo Ancelotti is and the players are and the club’s prestige in the competition, they’re not used to the way City make you play.

“You have to be super disciplined and the credit you have to give to Pep and the team is you have to be at your best to beat Man City, and even then you may not win. If you are making teams perform at their very best then you have a really good chance of going through and winning.”

Manchester City will have to reach the final-eight portion of Europe’s premier club competition without the input of two of their key wide forwards however, with Jack Grealish remaining ruled out of this week’s European meeting through injury.

Jeremy Doku was thrown into doubt this week too having failed to appear for first-team training in front of the media at the City Football Academy on Tuesday, with no update from Pep Guardiola speaking prior to the session in his pre-match press conference.