Man City star Leroy Sane could make surprise return against Basel

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Leroy Sane could make a dramatic return to action when Manchester City resume their Champions League campaign in Basel on Tuesday.

The runaway Premier League leaders will go into the first leg of the last-16 tie in Switzerland full of confidence, with captain Vincent Kompany believing the club are now ready to win the competition.

Winger Sane was initially ruled out for up to seven weeks when he suffered ankle ligament damage in quadruple-chasing City’s FA Cup victory at Cardiff on January 28.

But the German has made a rapid recovery and proved his fitness to travel with the squad on Monday morning.

Manager Pep Guardiola said: “I’m surprised. He has worked a lot, but I didn’t expect with a young guy how professional he was.

“He is not in perfect condition but he is with us. He wants to help us. That is good news. He and the physios did a good job.”

Guardiola, who was speaking at his pre-match press conference at St Jakob-Park, was asked how many training sessions Sane had participated in.

When he replied “one”, there was a nice moment as Kompany, sitting next to him, joked: “It’s a bit longer than I usually take!”

Kompany, however, spoke with great authority when asked about City’s growing maturity as a team.

The Belgian, despite his numerous injury setbacks, has been at the heart of City’s development over the past decade and feels they are now at home in the Champions League after many past frustrations.

The 31-year-old defender said: “We’ve been caught out on occasions when we shouldn’t have but I think things have changed now.

“If there is a year, a time, a moment when the club is ready to feel at home in the competition then it’s now.

“I’m not going to say it’s a matter of time because some clubs never win it but, if every year we can go in with this kind of confidence, then if not this year, or next year, eventually we’ll get there. I’m sure of it.”

Vincent Kompany (L) and Manchester City's Spanish coach Pep Guardiola

City’s confidence is well-founded given their outstanding form on the domestic front. They are 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League, playing in the Carabao Cup final later this month and still involved in the FA Cup.

Despite that, Kompany claims nobody in the dressing room is talking about a potential clean sweep of trophies.

He said: “The key thing I’ve noticed in this team – but I can’t say if it is going to give us all the trophies, or how far this will get us – is the ability to switch back on for every single game.

“The motivation, respect for opponents, preparing correctly to make sure we are 100 per cent, is one thing I’ve not experienced in any team I’ve been in before.

“Talk of quadruple – none, but winning next game, next game, next game and that belief – always.”

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PSG's Edinson Cavani keen to calm Champions League expectations ahead of Real Madrid clash

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Striker Edinson Cavani believes Paris St Germain are still growing and should not be under pressure to win the Champions League.

The runaway Ligue 1 leaders face Real Madrid on Wednesday in the first leg of their stand-out last-16 tie but Cavani has attempted to play down expectations.

He told Spanish newspaper Marca: “I believe it is unnecessary that a club like PSG has the obligation to win the Champions League at all costs, regardless of their signings.

“I think there is a story, a myth, created around the Champions League. Of course, it is the greatest of all competitions but for me, the league is very important – it is the result of a whole year’s work.

“This game at the Bernabeu is another step in the growth of the club in recent years. We want to be better each year and continue to grow with the club.”

Big-spending PSG memorably lost to Barcelona at the same stage last season, winning the first leg 4-0 before Neymar – now with the French club following world record £198million move – inspired Barca to a 6-1 win in the second.

Cavani said: “We lost an incredible match but that played a part in the journey of the club. We lost and learned.

“In 98 per cent of the matches you lose, it is because the opposition were better or you were not at your best.
“The match against Barcelona is one where you ask ‘what happened?’, but it is no use going back over it.”

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Harry Kane is Champions League class but jury still out on Tottenham

Chris Bailey 12/02/2018
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Harry Kane added another clipping to his scrapbook after vanquishing Arsenal in Saturday’s derby, but towards the front, there are a few spare pages waiting to be filled.

If scoring goals is all that Kane cared about then it’d already be full to the brim. It’s just all a little too similar at the moment.

What the world’s best striker truly wants is a picture or two of him with a toothy grin and a trophy in his hands that isn’t a golden boot or another personal trinket.

If he doesn’t accomplish that desire with England – ha! – then Tottenham are his only outlet. And he may just begin to realise the futility of that if Spurs do not make an impact in the Champions League over the course of their round-of-16 tie with Juventus.

If Europe’s most lethal striker draws a blank and Tottenham tumble out at this stage there will still be no questions of his class.

Spurs fans like to joke that he’s a ‘four-season wonder’, given the long-held expectation by the cynics that an unremarkable lad from Essex must surely run out of steam before long. Well, he runs on renewables, given the 131 goals he has so far scored in a lilywhite shirt by the age of 24.

The question marks instead linger over a section of north London that starts in Wembley and ends back at White Hart Lane.

Spurs, as far as first XIs go, are the match of most in the world. Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Harry Kane; no team would want for a more solid spine. Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min and Dele Alli, on his day, pack some mighty fine muscle up front too.

It is the greatest team in Tottenham’s history that has yet to win anything. But therein lies a warning – the second-greatest team in Tottenham’s history, in which Ossie Ardiles, Chris Waddle and Clive Allen tormented defenders 30 years ago, never won anything either.

This current incarnation has stuck together for longer and though from one side the future looks promising, the other looks worryingly murky.

Tottenham cannot compete with Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid et al in the financial stakes yet, thanks to the efforts of Mauricio Pochettino, they can afford to not afford and still keep hold of their coat-tails.

A bigger problem is their new stadium, which in theory will generate more revenue but in the short-term threatens to bog  progress down.

According to reports late last year, projected costs have spiralled from an initial £400m to £1bn and chairman Daniel Levy will have to rely on a mix of advance hospitality sales, naming rights and debt to cover the increased burden.

It can only mean less money available to strengthen the squad and in a world in which Manchester City can buy a defender that they don’t really need for a cool £53m in January, this is not the time to be frugal.

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 12: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur speaks to the media during the press conference at Allianz Stadium on February 12, 2018 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Mark of a Champion: Harry Kane has scored six times in the Champions League already this year.

Meanwhile, Kane is happy. With a caveat. When asked what Tottenham must do to keep him that way recently, he stated: “I’ve always said: keep progressing, keep getting better, we want to start winning trophies. That’s the aim, as long as the club keep doing that then, yeah I’m happy here.”

For a team that last lifted silverware a decade ago, any trophy would surely be a start. The League Cup may be a poxy little trophy in some people’s eyes but to Kane, a first senior trophy of any kind would be fulfilling. What happened this year? A 3-2 loss at Wembley to a rudderless West Ham in the fourth round, a game that Kane was ‘rested’ for.

Even beating a minnow in the FA Cup has proven a struggle this season. Newport County, a team three tiers below Tottenham in England, were eight minutes away from knocking them out before Kane’s intervention. That goal probably won’t make the scrapbook.

From Newport to Turin on Tuesday. Juventus have kept 15 clean sheets in their last 16 matches and it is not a challenge that will faze Kane.

After all, he was made for this stage – now what about Tottenham?

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