Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany insisted on Monday that the “time is now” for his team to make a serious mark in Europe, but brushed off talk of winning a quadruple this season.
Runaway Premier League leaders City face Basel at St. Jakob-Park on Tuesday in their last 16, first-leg, Champions League tie with the return game on March 7 in Manchester.
Pep Guardiola’s side arrived in Switzerland on Monday full of confidence in the wake of Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of Leicester which took them 16 points clear in the Premier League.
But City have a score to settle in the knock-out stage of Europe after winning their group this term.
“If ever there was a time that the team was to be comfortable in the competition, it’s now,” Kompany said.
“I’m not going to say it’s a matter of time, because some teams never win it, but if it’s not this year, it could be next year or the next.
“We’ll get there, I’m sure of it.”
They lost to eventual winners Real Madrid in the 2015/16 Champions League semi-finals, then crashed out in the last 16 to Monaco last season.
This term, Guardiola’s side have lost just once in 27 Premier League games — but Kompany played down any thoughts of a possible quadruple of Champions League, FA Cup, Premier League and League Cup titles.
“The key thing I have noticed, and I am not saying if that will give us the four trophies or not, is the ability to switch on in this team,” said the Belgian centre-back.
“There is no talk of the quadruple, but there is lots of talk of winning the next game… and the next… and the next.
“I have never experienced this level of motivation, ambition and intensity throughout the team, but we have won nothing yet.”
Kompany rejected the notion that City have struggled for confidence at Champions League level in past seasons.
“I wouldn’t say we had an inferiority complex, but maybe a lack of experience in the past — for sure,” he said.
“It’s a balance between not underestimating the weaker teams and not overestimating the stronger wins.
“I don’t make a distinction between the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup. Can we win the next game? Yes, sure we can.”
In the past, Guardiola has said City need to win the Champions League in order to be considered a top European team, a sentiment Kompany echoed.
“It’s easy to make the statement, but going out and doing it means breaking into a well-established order,” said the injury-plagued 31-year-old.
“Teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, who often have gone far in the competition, many teams have tried to match them and failed.
“We start with Basel tomorrow, it’s about measuring ourselves with the big clubs and beating them.”
City manager Guardiola said Germany winger Leroy Sane has recovered after damaging an ankle ligament against Cardiff in the FA Cup at the end of January.
“He has had one training session and he is young,” the Spaniard said when asked if Sane could play, while David Silva and Fabian Delph are also back training after injuries.