By Simon Jennings
Manchester City now have enough experience of playing against the European elite to mount a serious challenge in the Champions League, striker Sergio Aguero has said.
City, who face Juventus in Turin on Wednesday (9.45pm), lead Group D with nine points and have already made it to the knockout stages with two games to spare.
Since Arab billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought the club in 2008, City have qualified for the Champions League five times but failed to reach the knockout stages twice and were dumped out in the round of 16 by Barcelona on two other occasions.
A win against second-placed Juventus would ensure they top their group for the first time and could help them avoid clashing with another European heavyweight in the next round.
“The first times were difficult, the nerves, the expectations, but now most of us have enough experience,” Aguero was quoted as saying by the British media.
“We have very good players who are going to do a lot for us and I think we are on the right path.
“In the last few Champions Leagues we have maybe not had the experience, maybe some players did not know what it was to play in the Champions League.
“In all our previous runs we would have wanted to move into the next round without any hitches, but now we are more experienced and we are developing naturally,” the 27-year-old added.
Aguero is set to lead the line for City in what will be only his second competitive start in over a month and said he will not lower the intensity of his game in the hope of avoiding another spell on the sidelines.
The Argentine injured his hamstring while on international duty against Ecuador on October 9, but returned to grab a consolation goal for City in their 4-1 defeat by Liverpool at the weekend.
“You cannot truly measure the intensity with which you play,” Aguero said.
“And on top of that, I always try to kick into top gear. I can’t imagine playing in any other way… the ultimate reward only comes if you give it your all.”