Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes the fitness levels of his players in February could decide their fate in the Champions League knockout phase after they were drawn against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the last 16 on Monday.
In four previous seasons under the Spaniard, City have reached the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition three times and the round of 16 once.
Despite a series of injury setbacks this season, City topped Champions League Group C with 16 points from six matches and Guardiola is hoping to have a full-strength squad at his disposal when they travel to Moenchengladbach in February.
“I learned when I was in Germany how big, important and historical a team they are,” former Bayern Munich coach Guardiola told a news conference on Monday.
“I respect the beauty of their football. I saw highlights and to go through from the group with Shakhtar (Donetsk) and Inter (Milan) – made two incredible games against Shakhtar. All I can say is I want to arrive in the best possible condition when we play them. We will try and arrive in the best condition and best mood possible. We want to compete as best as possible and go through.”
Guardiola said Sergio Aguero had returned to training after a bout of gastroenteritis but he had yet to include the Argentine striker in his selection plans for Tuesday’s Premier League match at home to West Bromwich Albion.
The 32-year-old Aguero, who missed the start of the season with a knee injury, came off the bench to score against Olympique Marseille in the Champions League last week before missing Saturday’s goalless draw at Manchester United.
“Today Sergio Aguero was training,” Guardiola said. “The last two or three days before that he didn’t.”
The City mananger also confirmed that both Eric Garcia and Oleksandr Zinchenko were still unavailable due to injury.