The return of the Champions League comes at the perfect time for Manchester City with the returns of Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne from injury making the holders look formidable.
Pep Guardiola’s men travel to FC Copenhagen for the first leg of their last 16 on Tuesday on the back of a run of 10 wins in all competitions.
A run that began while Haaland and De Bruyne were still sidelined through injury has only gained momentum since their return.
Haaland scored his first goals since November as City finally dismantled Everton to win 2-0 at the Etihad on Saturday.
De Bruyne had started on the bench with the Champions League in mind as Guardiola manages the Belgian’s minutes after starting the season with a hamstring tear that ruled him out for five months.
But the 32-year-old has looked like his old self since returning with seven goals in eight games this season.
De Bruyne was the provider for Haaland’s second goal on Saturday and the Norwegian is delighted to have his delivery once again.
“I try to make the same runs as everyone, but with him it’s a bit more like I know I’m going to do great. I know the ball is going to come,” Haaland said.
“You can see I don’t even look at the ball for two seconds when he has it because I’m focused on running towards the goal.
“That’s the difference, no offense to the other players, but it’s the little difference in knowing the ball is going to come.”
City became only the second English team ever to win the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble last season.
Guardiola scoffed at the suggestion that they could defend all three earlier in the campaign, but they remain well on course to do so.
The Premier League title race is excitingly set with the top three separated by just two points, but City will move ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal if they win their game against Brentford next week.
A trip to Luton awaits in the fifth round of the FA Cup and Copenhagen are not expected to cause the English champions too many problems despite their success against the other side of Manchester this season.
The Danes stunned Manchester United 4-3 in November as the Red Devils crashed out in the group stage.
But City are a different beast as they look to become only the second club in the Champions League era to retain the trophy, following Real Madrid’s three-run run between 2016 and 2018.
Guardiola has a full squad to choose from and a wealth of options at his disposal.
Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol started alongside De Bruyne on the bench at the weekend.
Phil Foden believes he is in the form of his life after scoring a hat-trick in last week’s 3-1 win at Brentford.
And anchor midfield Rodri was not on the losing side in 51 games for club and country until March last year.
All three of City’s league defeats this season have come when the Spaniard was sent off in the autumn.
But in line with the best seasons under Guardiola, City are rounding into form as they approach the business end of the campaign.
After making it their Champions League success last season, even the best Europe has to offer will do well to stop them lifting the trophy once again at Wembley on June 1.
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