Man City vs Schalke : Manchester City stride into the opening knockout match with high spirits having confirmed their FA Cup quarter-final place with a 4-1 win at Newport County. City confidently thumped Chelsea 6-0 in their last league showing where Pep Guardiola’s men regained pole position from Liverpool, ensuring the quadruple is still on.
== MATCH INFO ==
Team : Man City vs Schalke
Date : Wednesday, 20 February
Start Time : 3:00 Pm Et
The FA Cup fixture on Saturday provided a wonderful opportunity to rest some key players before the vital midweek match-up against Schalke.
Stars are somewhat aligning for Man City this season, particularly in cup competitions. Seven-time Bundesliga champions Schalke are having their worst season domestically for almost ten years despite finishing runners-up last campaign and come into the elimination round hovering outside the relegation zone.
Schalke have the opposite issue to free-scoring Man City. Midfielder and occasional full-back Daniel Caligiuri is the leading goal-scorer for The Miners with only four goals. Conversely, Sergio Aguero leads the way for The Citizens with 23.
Young Turkish striker Ahmed Kutucu could change things for the hosts. He has quickly found his way to goal after promotion to the senior team following 12 strikes in 12 games for the Under-19 side. The pacey forward has netted twice already in just over two hours of first team football, including an impressive goal on his full debut against Bayern Munich last weekend.
City topped Group F and last played Schalke in the UEFA Cup in 2008, winning 2-0 in Germany.
They are tipped to progress past the German side with Gundogan insisting they must embrace the favourites tag.
“We are clear favourites in this tie and rightly so,” he told the club’s official site.
“We accept that role and we’re aware of it. However, it has to be said that every team in the last 16 has earned the right to be there.
“Because of that, we’ll respect our opponents and prepare for it as if it’s a normal final because it’s the knockout phase and every mistake can be severely punished.”
The 28-year-old grew up in Gelsenkirchen and watched Schalke as a youngster and still feels a strong connection to the city.
He added: “Football meant everything to us, for my family, for my older brother, who is two years older than me and kind of paved my way with his way of playing football.
“I remember that the first two games I saw were Schalke games. The first one, when I was very young, I cannot remember the exact age, but I can remember that I went to Parkstadion and watched a game in the stadium for the first time.”