City look to get back on track

Manchester City's players during a training session ahead of their Champions League clash against Hoffenheim on Tuesday. Reuters

Manchester City travel to Hoffenheim on Tuesday desperately needing a win to kickstart a Champions League campaign that began with a shock 2-1 defeat to Lyon for the competition favourites.

There should, therefore, be no shortage of motivation for Pep Guardiola's men.

Leroy Sane was one of the stars of City's romp to a record 100 Premier League points and the League Cup last season. The 22-year-old was crowned Young Player of the Year in England thanks to a stellar return of 14 goals and 19 assists in all competitions.

However, that still wasn't enough to earn him a place in Germany's World Cup squad as Sane was surprisingly cut from Joachim Loew's 23.

The pace, direct running and eye for a quick shot at goal possessed by the former Schalke winger were all traits missing from a laboured and predictable Germany, who exited at the first hurdle in Russia.

Yet, there was no time for Sane to feel vindicated as on his return to club duty he was similarly shunned by Guardiola, sparking doubts over his attitude off the field.

"We never -- even in this period when he didn't play -- doubted Leroy's quality," said Guardiola.

With his club manager's faith restored, Sane heads back to Germany with a perfect chance to show his compatriots, what they were missing in a rare summer of sorrow at international level.

Real Madrid is missing Cristiano Ronaldo. Madrid started the season well enough, leading some commentators to argue that the team's collective attack was as dangerous as the huge individual threat once provided by Ronaldo before his exit to Juventus this summer.

But a stinging 3-0 loss at Sevilla and a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid at home on Saturday have left Madrid searching for the goals that Ronaldo used to produce.

To make matters worse for Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui, Madrid has lost three of its top attacking talents ahead of its Group G match on Tuesday at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

Gareth Bale picked up an unspecified leg injury against Atletico. Left back Marcelo, who often joins the attack, missed the derby due to a muscle injury in his right leg, and midfielder Francisco "Isco" Alarcon underwent surgery for appendicitis.

Lopetegui has also left Sergio Ramos off his squad for the trip to Moscow, presumably to rest his centre back.

Bayern hosts Ajax

Bayern Munich host Ajax in the Champions League with Niko Kovac needing to fix a leaking defence and lack of finishing after yielding top spot in the Bundesliga.

The clash at Munich's Allianz Arena could well decide Group E after Bayern claimed a 2-0 win at Benfica in the opening round a fortnight ago while Ajax won 3-0 at Greek side AEK.

Dauntingly for Ajax, Bayern have won the last 12 matches at home in the Champions League's group stages.

Manchester United currently look far from contenders, but they can take a huge step towards the last 16 by moving six points clear of Valencia in Group H on Tuesday.

United believed they were closing the gap on "noisy neighbours" City when they beat the Premier League champions to the signature of Alexis Sanchez just nine months ago.

But as the Red Devils slumped to a third defeat just seven games into the new league season at West Ham on Saturday to already fall nine points adrift of City, Sanchez was nowhere to be seen.

It is the type of game Alexis Sanchez was signed for. Whether he even starts will say much about his future so long as Mourinho remains in charge.

Fixtures: On Tuesday: Hoffenheim vs Manchester City (10.30 pm); Juventus vs Young Boys (10.30 pm)

On Wednesday: Olympique Lyonnais vs Shakhtar Donetsk (00.30); CSKA Moskva vs Real Madrid (00.30); Roma vs Viktoria Plzeň (00.30); Manchester United vs Valencia (00.30); Bayern München vs Ajax (00.30); AEK Athens vs Benfica (00.30).

 

 

 

 

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City look to get back on track

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