Pep Guardiola labelled Real Madrid the kings of the Champions League as the former Barcelona boss prepares to lead his Manchester City side against the club he wants to emulate.

City travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday for their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Zinedine Zidane's Madrid and Guardiola highlighted the relative inexperience of his players when it comes to winning European titles.

Madrid emerged as champions in four of the last six editions of the Champions League and have retained many of the players who spearheaded those triumphs, while Claudio Bravo and Scott Carson are the only City players to have won the competition.

City manager Guardiola cast aside his intense rivalry with Madrid, which dates back to his time as Barca head coach, and told reporters: "I have an incredible admiration for this club.

"The players who have played there have played so many times in the [Champions League] final and I don't know how many times each one has lifted it.

"Maybe Claudio [Bravo] has won the Champions League and someone else. We don't have many players who have won it. But we need the desire to win it and be ourselves, We could win it or lose it.

"But we must be ourselves in the 180 minutes against Real Madrid. It is the real, real test."

Madrid face City having failed to win either of their last two matches and Zidane's men will be under pressure to recover from a 1-0 LaLiga defeat at Levante on Saturday.

In contrast, City go into the game on the back of two straight Premier League wins without conceding a goal, but Guardiola said Madrid's historic success in the Champions League would be a factor in the tie.

"You have players who come to Madrid and pull on the shirt, they know they are defending their history," said Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice as coach of Barcelona. "That makes an extra thing. Not just the spectators and media.

"They are the club we want to emulate and imitate and we have to be there. I want to go there and at the end of the game I want to say 'we were what we are'. This is the most important thing in these types of competitions.

"We need to go and try and do it at one of the biggest, nicest and most prestigious stadiums. After that, we will try with our weapons and try to score the goals. If we cannot, we will congratulate them and try and improve for the next time.

"For us being here is exciting, so good and we will try to do our best, knowing we play against a team who have won 13 Champions Leagues and it is a king."

Eden Hazard's availability for Real Madrid's crunch fixtures against Manchester City and Barcelona appears in doubt after Zinedine Zidane admitted his latest injury "doesn't look good".

The Belgium forward hobbled off in the second half of the 1-0 loss to Levante on Saturday and he could be seen on the bench receiving treatment on his lower right leg.

Hazard only recently returned from a fractured right ankle so the sight of him appearing to have another problem in the same area was alarming for Zidane.

Madrid face Pep Guardiola's City in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday before a Clasico date with new LaLiga leaders Barcelona next weekend.

"It doesn't look good," Zidane told reporters at a news conference.

"It can become weak where you've had an injury. It is a blow, let's see.

"It's sore now but we'll see tomorrow when we do more tests."

It was a thoroughly miserable outing for Madrid as they suffered a surprise defeat thanks to Jose Luis Morales' stunning late effort.

Madrid drew 2-2 with Celta Vigo at home in their previous outing and they will host Barcelona next Sunday knowing they are now two points behind their great rivals in the title race.

Captain Sergio Ramos revealed the level of frustration he was feeling in a social media post.

"We're p***ed off," he wrote on Twitter.

"But we can't allow our heads to drop.

"We have to reset now and tomorrow push harder than ever before for a very important week. We're counting on you."

Eden Hazard hobbled off during Real Madrid's LaLiga game at Levante on Saturday - giving Zinedine Zidane a major injury concern ahead of a crucial week for the club.

The Belgium international, who has only recently returned from a fractured ankle, was clearly in pain as he was replaced by Vinicius Junior in the 67th minute with the score at 0-0.

Hazard could be seen sitting on the visitors' bench receiving treatment to his lower right leg, with Zidane now waiting to discover the full extent of the problem ahead of two huge home fixtures.

Madrid, who went on to lose 1-0 to Levante, host Manchester City on Wednesday in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, followed by the visit of title rivals Barcelona in league action next Sunday.

Hazard was making just his second outing since requiring surgery on his right ankle after he was hurt against Paris Saint-Germain on November 2.

His debut campaign in the Spanish capital got off to a delayed start following a thigh injury in pre-season, forcing him to wait until September 14 to make his debut following his arrival from Chelsea in June.

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers insisted his side were denied a "clear penalty" in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the King Power Stadium.

The hosts had a couple of appeals turned down in the first half for Ederson's challenge on Kelechi Iheanacho and a possible handball against Kevin De Bruyne.

Whereas De Bruyne got away with blocking James Maddison's free-kick with his arm, the officials pointed to the spot at the other end for a similar incident involving Dennis Praet.

Rodgers agreed referee Paul Tierney was right to award the visitors a penalty, which Sergio Aguero failed to convert, but felt Leicester should also have been given one of their own.

"[Praet] has gone to block it and it's a penalty - we accept that. But you hope you get them for you as well," he told Sky Sports.

"But we're disappointed we didn't get a penalty - it's so clear. I felt it was the reason VAR was brought in. 

"The ball was going towards the goal, the corner, and Kevin De Bruyne stops it. He's lifted his arms up. 

"If you look at the reaction of the other players in the wall, their hands were down. It's handball."

Kasper Schmeichel kept the champions at bay for large parts of the game by producing a string of fine saves, including a penalty save to frustrate Aguero.

City have now missed their last four top-flight penalties, each by a different player, but they were rescued by substitute Gabriel Jesus' late strike three minutes after he was introduced.

"They are incredibly quick with Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi," Guardiola said at his post-match news conference.

"It was an incredible test for us. I'm so pleased for the victory."

Guardiola's side face Real Madrid on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and the Catalan coach has been handed a big fitness boost.

Raheem Sterling has missed City's last two games with a hamstring injury, while Aymeric Laporte left the field early in the second half against Leicester, but both men could feature in Madrid.

"[Laporte] asked me to be substituted, but he's not injured," Guardiola said.

"He's been four months, five months injured, we can't forget that. He had to run a lot. It was different against West Ham, we could control it easier. But he's okay.

"Raheem is also much, much, much better. I think he'll be ready."

After Gabriel Jesus saw a penalty saved in a 1-0 win at Sheffield United in January, Pep Guardiola identified goalkeeper Ederson as Manchester City's best spot-kick option.

"Ederson is the best. Believe me, Eddie is the best taker we have on the penalties," said the City boss last month.

"He has no blood in his brains, he's so calm, so he could do it."

With Sergio Aguero seeing an effort from 12 yards stopped by Kasper Schmeichel in City's 1-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday, Guardiola may now have to consider passing the duties to his keeper.

City have failed with four of their seven penalties in the Premier League this season, and here we reflect on their struggles in 2019-20.

August 10, 2019: Sergio Aguero v West Ham - SCORED

There were signs of what was to come for City from the spot this season even in an opening-day 5-0 win. Aguero netted City's fourth from 12 yards, but only after referee Mike Dean had ordered a retake for encroachment, Lukasz Fabianski having saved his tame initial effort.

September 21, 2019: Sergio Aguero v Watford - SCORED

Aguero needed no second invitation in City's 8-0 thrashing of Watford, scoring the second goal with a confident low penalty struck straight down the middle after team-mate Riyad Mahrez had been fouled by visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster.

December 21, 2019: Ilkay Gundogan v Leicester City - SCORED

Schmeichel was unfortunate not to deny Gundogan in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium, the Germany international just beating his outstretched arm to find the bottom-right corner and put the reigning league champions 2-1 up in an eventual 3-1 win prior to Christmas.

December 27, 2019: Raheem Sterling v Wolves - MISSED

The start of City's dreadful recent run of missed penalties began in a thrilling 3-2 defeat at Molineux. Sterling was given a second chance after Rui Patricio kept out his first attempt, with a retake ordered. The Portugal keeper denied him again, only for Sterling to tuck away the rebound.

January 21, 2020: Gabriel Jesus v Sheffield United - MISSED

The failure that sparked Guardiola's Ederson remarks saw Brazil international Jesus thwarted, Dean Henderson – on loan at the Blades from Manchester United, of course – moved to his right to palm clear with a diving, two-handed save.

February 2, 2020: Ilkay Gundogan v Tottenham - MISSED

Gundogan went for the same formula that saw him score against Leicester, but Hugo Lloris went low to his left to deny him in the first half, with claims for another penalty after the France international felled Sterling in pursuit of the rebound rejected following a VAR review.

February 22, 2020 Sergio Aguero v Leicester City - MISSED

Aguero placed the ball on the spot at the King Power Stadium after Dennis Praet was adjudged to have handled in the area. However, Schmeichel got the better of the Argentina striker, marking his fourth Premier League penalty save, one more than famous father Peter recorded while playing in the same competition.

Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will score from their next penalty after his side missed yet another spot-kick in Saturday's late 1-0 win over Leicester City.

Sergio Aguero stepped up in the 62nd minute after Ilkay Gundogan's shot hit Dennis Praet's arm inside the box, but he failed to beat Kasper Schmeichel.

City have now missed each of their last four Premier League penalties, with Aguero joining Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling in failing to convert from 12 yards.

But Guardiola, who has previously suggested goalkeeper Ederson could take over spot-kick duties, is backing City to end their hoodoo soon enough.

"We have missed four penalties in a row, but maybe we will score one when we need it to win something," he told BBC Sport. 

"The [opposition] goalkeepers are good too, but the next one we are going to score!"

Despite Aguero's miss, City took all three points thanks to substitute Jesus' strike 10 minutes from time.

Jesus had only been on the pitch for three minutes, but clinically converted after being slipped in by former Leicester star Riyad Mahrez.

"Whenever I go on the field I try to help my team-mates by finding space," Jesus told Sky Sports.

"Riyad has a lot of quality and I thought 'go' because I know he has the quality to give me the ball. He played a very good ball and I scored."

City head to Real Madrid on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with some momentum on their side following back-to-back victories.

"The preparation after 12 days off was good," Guardiola added. "We have played two good games and it's good to prepare for Madrid with these good opponents. 

"We are playing the kings of the competition so we will see. We will try to enjoy it and do our game."

Frank Lampard once again got the better of his former manager Jose Mourinho as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their top-four hopes.

Ex-Blues midfielder Lampard saw his side complete a Premier League double over Spurs at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's early kick-off.

In the late game, Manchester City put seven points between themselves and third-placed Leicester City with a 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

It was a good day elsewhere for fourth-placed Chelsea too, as Sheffield United dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Struggling Aston Villa and Bournemouth both suffered away defeats but Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle United with a 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

 

LONDON DERBY DELIGHT FOR CHELSEA

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso rewarded Lampard's faith in them by marking their returns to the starting line-up with goals.

Striker Giroud scored his first club goal since August before Alonso doubled the lead prior to the break, with Chelsea hanging on despite a late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In leading his side to home and away Premier League victories over Tottenham in 2019-20, Lampard became the first boss to beat a team managed by Mourinho in both league fixtures in a single season.

Chelsea moved four points clear of both Spurs and Sheffield United, who were held by Brighton at Bramall Lane as Enda Stevens' opener was cancelled out by Neal Maupay.

JESUS CITY'S SAVIOUR AFTER AGUERO’S PENALTY MISS

Sergio Aguero became the latest City player to miss a penalty before Gabriel Jesus scored a late winner in a 1-0 victory at Leicester.

Aguero's second-half spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, with four different City players having failed to convert their last four Premier League penalties.

Yet Jesus, brought on for Aguero, slotted past Schmeichel 10 minutes from time to move City seven points clear of third-placed Leicester.

SAINTS AND EAGLES BOOST SURVIVAL HOPES

Southampton moved 10 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals 87 minutes apart from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong in a 2-0 triumph over Villa.

Roy Hodgson's Palace claimed their first victory of 2020 as Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick on the stroke of half-time proved enough to beat Newcastle, who lost Valentino Lazaro to a late red card.

Bournemouth were unable to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, however, as they went down 3-0 at Turf Moor.

The Cherries had two goals disallowed in the defeat to Burnley, who moved up to eighth thanks to second-half goals from Matej Vydra, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil.

Gabriel Jesus came off the bench to spare strike partner Sergio Aguero's blushes following his penalty miss as Manchester City earned a late 1-0 win over Leicester City.

Kasper Schmeichel had already frustrated the visitors on a number of occasions in Saturday's clash prior to keeping out Aguero's 62nd-minute spot-kick.

But just as Leicester looked to be heading for a third draw in a row, substitute Jesus - brought on for Aguero - clinically converted 10 minutes from time at the King Power Stadium.

A second win in a row for City in what has been a difficult period off the field ensures they have a seven-point gap over third-placed Leicester, who hit the post through Jamie Vardy early on in their best chance.

Pep Guardiola is expecting Manchester City to face a tough transfer window due to inflated fees and uncertainty over the club's participation in the Champions League.

Last week, City were hit with a two-year ban from European competition by UEFA along with a €30million fine over alleged breaches of its Financial Fair Play regulations.

The club immediately signalled their intention to launch an appeal against the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with chief executive Ferran Soriano saying the allegations "are simply not true".

Prior to UEFA's announcement, many had been tipping Guardiola to oversee an overhaul of City's first-team squad.

But when asked by Sky Sports if he expects a busy close season, the City manager admitted it will be tough to act in the market.

"I don't think so. I don't think so because today it is so difficult to change the players because they are so expensive and it is not easy," he said.

"The club must [also] be sustainable, I understand completely, and in the situation that we are in, we have to wait, [not] anticipate. Our idea right now with the situation with Financial Fair Play [is] when we are going to appeal.

"Right now, we have to wait. So, we are going to play these three months, and when the season finishes, we will see what the situation is.

"And with the club, together, we are going to decide what is best - not just for the next year, but for the next two, three, four years for the cub."

The former Barcelona coach insists City are still preparing as though they will play in the Champions League next season, though.

"I think the club is working as though nothing has changed, nothing has happened, and the players have to play like they have done all of these seasons [previously] in the same way," Guardiola added.

"We believe we are going to be there. What we have to do is to do our job and play like we have done these seasons and then, after that, [we will see]."

Manchester City's Champions League ban could have some serious consequences.

While City are planning to appeal UEFA's two-season suspension from European competition after an investigation found the club broke financial fair play regulations, rivals are circling.

City's stars are reportedly attracting interest from far and wide.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE BERNARDO SILVA

LaLiga champions Barcelona are targeting Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, according to the Transfer Window Podcast.

The report comes following City's Champions League suspension handed down to the Premier League giants by UEFA.

City team-mate Raheem Sterling has already been linked to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Madrid are ready to make a move for Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga. The 17-year-old has starred for the Ligue 1 outfit and is reportedly valued at €70million.

Paul Pogba has also been linked to Madrid but Goal claims he could be offered a new contract by Manchester United, who expect the Frenchman to leave at the end of the season. Former club Juventus are also reportedly tracking the midfielder.

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to either Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri or Massimiliano Allegri amid uncertainty over the future of Thomas Tuchel, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Lille defender Gabriel is being monitored by Arsenal, Everton, PSG and now Leicester City, according to Le10 Sport.

- The Mirror says Arsenal are set to raise transfer funds through the sale of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and potentially Matteo Guendouzi as the Gunners eye Valencia's Carlos Soler and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano.

Pep Guardiola says any club would "tremble" if Real Madrid or Barcelona enquired about one of their star players, amid speculation linking Raheem Sterling with Los Blancos.

In an interview with Spanish publication AS on Friday, City forward Sterling spoke of his admiration for Madrid following rumours of a potential move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

The England international was also pictured holding up the shirts of both City and Madrid, who meet in the Champions League last 16 next week.

In a news conference ahead of City's Premier League clash with third-placed Leicester City, Guardiola insisted he has no doubt over Sterling's commitment.

However, he conceded all clubs have to worry should Madrid or their LaLiga rivals Barcelona come calling.

"All the clubs have to know that when Real Madrid or Barcelona knock on the door, the other clubs must tremble, they will be a little bit in trouble," Guardiola told reporters.

"Barcelona and Madrid are maybe the strongest and most powerful teams in terms of history and how good they are. That is normal and I understand completely.

"But on the same point, you just see the commitment from Raheem, every single day when he arrives. He's never injured.

"His commitment in every game, offensively and defensively, so he's one of the best players in the world and it's normal that big clubs see his desire for the team.

"I don't know if Madrid or Barcelona called his agent, [but] I don't have any doubts about the commitment Raheem and the other ones have had from the first day to the last day."

Guardiola himself has been linked with leaving City after the club was handed a two-year ban from the Champions League by UEFA for a breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

With City in the process of lodging an appeal after denying UEFA's claims, Guardiola swiftly moved to dismiss reports of a potential exit and reiterated his commitment to City once more on Friday.

"My happiness. I'm looking for my happiness, that's the only thing I'm looking for," Guardiola said when asked if he would consider staying beyond the expiration of his current deal, which runs out at the end of next season.

"I'm working with exceptional players especially and I have the feeling that they follow us 100 per cent, knowing how it's not easy working with us and with me, but I'm happy.

"That is the only reason why, when I move on always it's because I am thinking I can be happier than the place that I was before. That is the only reason.

"We have got incredible owners and a good relationship, so I think it will not be a problem to understand both sides if we decide to stay three more years or stay in the time we are together."

Pep Guardiola has hailed Jamie Vardy as an "exceptional player" whose game is tailor-made to torment Manchester City.

Guardiola's team travel on Saturday to take on Leicester City, the against-all-odds 2015-16 Premier League champions whose success has owed plenty to Vardy's goals.

It is a battle of second against third in this season's top flight, with Guardiola's team currently four points ahead of Brendan Rodgers' Foxes.

Vardy leads the league's scoring charts with 17 goals in 24 appearances, putting him one ahead of Guardiola's star marksman Sergio Aguero.

And Guardiola believes it is obvious why Vardy has enjoyed success against his City team in the past, pointing to the high defensive line the speedy striker has been able to exploit.

"Because we play 40 metres in front, it's perfect for him," Guardiola said.

"Jamie Vardy scored goals against us and against all the teams, because in the box, in the final third, he's exceptional.

"He's one of the better strikers I've ever seen in movement, in finishing, in high pressing. In many things he's an exceptional player."

Vardy has netted five times in 11 Premier League games against City – no one has scored more top-flights goals against a Guardiola side across his spells in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and the current English champions.

However, 33-year-old Vardy is also mired in a goal drought, having not netted in his past eight games, six of which have been league fixtures.

Leicester have hit a sticky patch collectively but still sit nine points ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea going into the weekend.

Guardiola knows that form could flip in an instant, with Leicester having shown in the first half of the season what a strong unit they are, and what an impressive job Northern Irishman Rodgers is doing at the King Power Stadium.

"I said when we played before, in our home game, how impressed [I was]," Guardiola said.

"I know the incredible job he did at Liverpool, but I was not here. I saw him when he was at Celtic in Glasgow and I thought, 'Wow, this team plays good and aggressive and had good vibes'.

"They have incredible organisation at Leicester, with good scouting. They know exactly what they have to do, and it's nice to see teams play as well as they play for the benefit of English football, to have this kind of manager and a team playing this way."

Raheem Sterling believes Manchester City's players have not been shown the respect they deserve when it comes to individual awards.

City are set to relinquish the Premier League title to Liverpool in the coming weeks, but had previously won the trophy for two successive seasons under Pep Guardiola, who has also won the EFL Cup and Community Shield twice, as well as the FA Cup, during his time in England.

Manuel Pellegrini also managed to win the league with City in 2013-14, two seasons after the club secured their maiden Premier League triumph in dramatic fashion on the final day of 2011-12.

However, while City stars have dominated the PFA Team of the Year over recent campaigns, and Sterling himself has scooped the Young Player of the Year prize – as has team-mate Leroy Sane – the England forward still feels the club is not represented enough.

"Especially in the last year where we have won the domestic quadruple including the league, to not have a player winning PFA Player of the Year kind of speaks for itself really," Sterling told AS.

"The award was given to a Liverpool player [Virgil van Dijk] who had a fantastic season but I look at previous seasons as well when Yaya Toure scored 20 goals from midfield and he didn't win Player of the Year.

"Also, Sergio Aguero has been at the club for more than seven years and has scored unbelievable goals during this time, yet none of City's players have won it.

"It is impossible to win the league four times and none of the players were Player of the Year. 

"So, this year Liverpool win the league and a Liverpool player will win the Player of the Year for sure. We won the league four times and we were not treated with the same respect.

"The first year we won the league [under Guardiola], Kevin De Bruyne was unbelievable and they gave it to another player [N'Golo Kante].

"Every year we win a major trophy and it's given to an opposition player. It's that sort of thing that doesn't depend on us, but we keep going."

Pep Guardiola has backed Raheem Sterling after the Manchester City forward was pictured with a Real Madrid shirt in an interview with a Spanish newspaper.

The England international has been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu and told AS he was happy at City but "always open to challenges".

City head coach Guardiola was asked about Sterling’s interview in a news conference on Friday, ahead of the Premier League match against Leicester City.

"Players are free to talk and say what they believe, what they think," Guardiola said. "We are not here to tell them what they have to say.

"It's normal if you make an interview with the Madrid media that he speaks about Madrid."

Sterling posed with City and Madrid shirts ahead of the Champions League last-16 first leg between the teams next Wednesday, which comes at a turbulent time for the English club.

UEFA has handed the reigning Premier League champions a two-season ban from European competition and a €30million fine after an investigation found City broke financial fair play regulations.

City have vowed to fight the verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with chief executive Ferran Soriano saying it is "simply not true" that the club breached the rules.

But the issue looks set to dominate discussion around City for the foreseeable future, to the obvious frustration of Guardiola.

The former Barcelona boss told reporters his team would give 100 per cent until the end of the season as he led a fresh defence of their achievements.

"I'm completely sure about the commitment of our players. They have shown it for many, many years, so nothing changes in this terms," Guardiola said.

"At the end of this season nobody knows what is going to happen.

"With calm we're going to decide to do what we want, what the players want, but right now, the commitment for the last three months together in every single game, I don't have any doubts we will be incredibly well, as we always have been."

Asked about what some people may think of City in the wake of the UEFA punishment, Guardiola said: "I cannot change what people think. I know how hard we work. I'm so proud of what we have done in these years all together.

"So I have a different opinion. All that we won in these seasons, nobody helped us from outside, so we did an incredible job, day by day, game by game.

"This is not finished, it's not over, we appeal as a club and we will see what happens in the end."

Raheem Sterling has described Real Madrid as "a fantastic club" amid speculation over his Manchester City future.

The LaLiga giants have been linked with a move for the 25-year-old over the past two seasons, but City's looming ban from Europe has fuelled those rumours further.

Sterling insists he is happy at City, where he has won two Premier League titles, two EFL Cups and the FA Cup since moving from Liverpool in 2015, but he cannot disguise his admiration for Zinedine Zidane's side.

"Right now, I'm at City and I'm really happy," Sterling told Madrid sports publication AS.

"But I say Real Madrid are a fantastic club. When you see the white shirt, you know exactly what the club stands for. It's massive. But at the same time, I have a contract with City now and I have to respect this. But it's a fantastic club.

"No one knows what the future will hold. I am a player and I am always open to challenges but right now my challenge is at Manchester City. In the future, hopefully, who knows..."

City were given a two-season ban from European competition by UEFA after being found guilty of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations, although the club insist they have done nothing wrong and intend to appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Speaking on the issue, Sterling said: "It's something we don't know much about yet because it's something that has not been confirmed. The club has a long way to go and we just have to wait and see what happens, but I have full confidence in the club."

City face Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League, with the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu taking place next Wednesday.

Sterling is relishing the challenge of facing the 14-time champions of Europe and does not think there is anything lucky about Zidane having led Madrid to three consecutive Champions League triumphs from 2016 to 2018.

"We had a good reaction when we knew that they will be our rival," said the England star. "If you want to do well I think the best thing you have to do is to play against the best teams straight away and there is no better challenge than Real Madrid.

"It is always going to be a difficult game whether they are in a good or a bad moment, just because of the atmosphere, the historical stadium that we are going to...

"It's going to be a difficult game, especially now that they are doing really well, but at the same time I’ve got full confidence in our team and if we get it right on the day, I believe we can win.

"I think to win the Champions League so many times, especially in a row as well, is very difficult. I don't think that's luck; it's definitely a formula. Some people have that winning mentality and he wins by any means. So I wouldn't say that it's luck, I'd say it's something he has probably developed over his great career as a player and he's developing his career as a manager, so it continues this winning touch."

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