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Riyad Mahrez believes it's Manchester City's 'time' to win the Champions League

'We have the team, we have the manager, we have everything'

Manchester City's (l to r) Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling celebrate after winning the League Cup Final at Wembley. PA
Manchester City's (l to r) Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling celebrate after winning the League Cup Final at Wembley. PA

Riyad Mahrez believes the time is right for Manchester City to win the Champions League this season after declaring they have the players and manager to conquer Europe.

City have a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid after coming from behind to win in the Bernabeu, with the competition belatedly due to finish in August.

And both of last season’s finalists, Liverpool and Tottenham, already knocked out, they won’t have to face the teams who eliminated them in the previous two campaigns.

Winger Mahrez helped make Leicester champions of England for the first time ever and Algeria African Cup of Nations winners for the first time since 1990 and now has his sights set on another historic achievement.

“I think it is a good time to win the Champions League,” he said. “We have the team, we have the manager, we have everything, so it is a good time.

"I don’t know if we are the best, but we are good enough to win it. The Champions League is difficult, everyone wants to win it, so it is going to be a big battle.

“The feeling [of winning AFCON] was unbelievable. It was a dream for me and for my teammates from the country.

"To make my country happy and proud of us like we did was unbelievable. He [manager Djamel Belmadi] changed a lot of things. If he wasn’t here, I don’t think we would have won the African Cup of Nations.

"He is a very good manager. He can be close to the players but also very strict and demands a lot from us. The secret is work, work, work and focus.”

Confederation of African Football president Ahmad Ahmad, left, presents the Africa Cup of Nations trophy to Algeria's Riyad Mahrez at the Cairo International Stadium last week. AFP
Confederation of African Football president Ahmad Ahmad, left, presents the Africa Cup of Nations trophy to Algeria's Riyad Mahrez. AFP

Mahrez has played a greater role in his second season at City and accepted it took a while to adjust to Pep Guardiola’s more possession-based style of football.

He explained: “You have to get used to it at first but when you get used to it and you train a long time with Pep and everyone else it is easy.

"I adapted because I like the way we play, the way there is space, the attacking game, so that is my type of game.

“Leicester was more of a counter-attacking team and at City we are more attacking, you have to break down teams. It is completely different type of game. You have to adapt, and I think I am very good with that and happy.”

City are due to face Arsenal on June 17 in the first day of Premier League fixtures and Mahrez has savoured a return to training and renewing acquaintances with his colleagues after working out at home and doing sessions online.

He added: “It was something we had to respect and now we have come back to training it is very good. Step by step we are getting fitter, so it is good.

"I am excited. It was good to see my teammates and the coaches again. It was good to train with everyone and we have had very good weather as well."

Updated: May 30, 2020 08:54 AM

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