Basel v Man City preview: Leroy Sane could make a surprise return for visitors
Last Updated: 13/02/18 7:41pm
Leroy Sane could make a shock return to the Manchester City side to take on Basel in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.
Sane was originally ruled out for up to seven weeks at the end of January after a late tackle from Cardiff defender Joe Bennett left the Germany winger with ligament damage. However, the 22-year-old has travelled with City to Switzerland - five weeks ahead of schedule.
"I am surprised (he is fit)," said Guardiola. "He has worked very hard. He is not in perfect condition but he wants to help us."
City are firm favourites going into this encounter having qualified for the knockout stages comfortably, while leading the way in the Premier League by a colossal 16 points.
Basel have been in indifferent form in the Swiss League - with a loss and a victory in their last two matches, but it's not all bad news for manager Raphael Wicky.
They boast an impressive home record in recent years against English sides in the Champions League - winning four of their last five - including a win over Manchester United.
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Guardiola has been handed a boost with Sane, Fabian Delph and David Silva all taking part in first-team training on Monday.
Gabriel Jesus will be missing for this fixture, but before the Leicester game, Guardiola reported he should be back in two weeks and could easily play a part in the second leg of this fixture in March.
Influential midfielder Luca Zuffi will miss out through injury for Basel, while Eder Balanta will be assessed after being withdrawn at the weekend.
- This will be the first competitive meeting between Basel and Manchester City.
- Basel have also won four of their last five Champions League games (L1), as many wins as in their previous 22 games in the competition (D6 L12).
- Manchester City have won only one of their six away games in the Champions League knockout stages (D1 L4), it was against Dynamo Kiev in February 2016 (3-1). They've also never kept a clean sheet in those six games.
- Basel have averaged 39 per cent possession in this season's Champions League, the lowest ratio among the 16 teams left in the competition.
- Raheem Sterling has scored four goals in five Champions League appearances this season, already his most prolific campaign to date.
- Pep Guardiola has won the Champions League on two occasions as a manager (2009 & 2011, both with Barcelona). A third trophy would equal Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley's record. He's also reached the semi-finals in seven of his eight previous seasons as manager but hasn't made the final since 2011.
Well Basel have thrown up a few surprise results against English sides but I just don't see it materialising here. I think they'll have a go at City, being feisty, trying to get in their faces, because they know they can't just sit in and defend, but that hasn't worked in the Premier League and they'll get even more protection in Europe.
I think Pep Guardiola might actually think his side can write the second leg off here and he knows the strain of playing in four competitions, but when you're winning you always seem to have energy.
I must admit I thought Sergio Aguero was having a nightmare against Leicester for the first 30 minutes but then bang, four goals. That's what this City side can do to you.
Their away form has been a bit iffy but they were back with a bang at the weekend. I just think they'll counter-attack ruthlessly and all but end this tie here.
Charlie predicts: 1-3 and Aguero to score first (22/1 with Sky Bet)
Manchester City are just 4/11 with Sky Bet to establish a first-leg lead with Basel up against odds of 8/1 despite home advantage, while the draw is a 4/1 chance. Pep Guardiola's men are also the 3/1 outright favourites, with PSG considered their main opposition at 5/1, while Tuesday's hosts are the longest-priced outsiders at 500/1. Sergio Aguero heads the first goalscorer betting at 11/4 and is 12/1 for another hat-trick, while Ricky van Wolfswinkel is rated the hosts' main threat at 15/2 to break the deadlock.