Mon, 28 Sep 2020

BERLIN, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan expects big surprises in this season's Champions League final round.

"Everything will be decided in 90 minutes plus possibly extra time and a penalty shootout," the German international commented ahead of the Citizens' last-16 second leg tie against Spanish giants Real Madrid this Friday evening.

Due to the new final-round format, the 29-year-old says he is expecting big surprises.

"The games might be more entertaining for the fans watching, but the outcome will be more unpredictable than before," said the player who has been capped 37 times for Germany.

Although the 2019/2020 Premier League runners-up have a 2-1 lead from the first leg, Gundogan nevertheless expects a close match.

Nobody can predict the final result, he added. The German said Real is one of the rare teams in European football that is able to turn things around in only one game.

"They know how to deal with setbacks better than anyone else," he commented.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Champions League final round will take place in Lisbon in tournament format from the quarterfinals on.

It doesn't surprise him that the Citizens are seen as the favorites. "If you take away a narrow 2-1 win from Bernabeu, it is normal that everyone regards you as the favorites," he emphasized.

"I would rather say: Nothing has been decided yet. We both more or less start at the same level."

Real will miss Ramos' support as he is out due to the red card in the first match. Although it's thought a big loss for Real, Gundogan said sometimes the loss of a vital figure doesn't turn into a disadvantage.

"Sometimes, a new face turns up and changes the game entirely." The German midfielder expects Kroos may appear in Zinedine Zidane's starting 11.

"Toni plays an important role in our preparation as I think he will be intensively involved in their attacking game this time."

Kroos wasn't picked by the Real head coach in the first leg but stayed on the bench over the entire 90 minutes.

"I spoke to him after the game, and it was obvious that he was disappointed not to have been on the pitch," he said.

Gundogan believes the team showing the strongest will can trigger their best performance. A strong mindset is essential in this season's Champions League.

He expressed his relief about his club's participation in next season's Champions League. The biggest club competition is where every footballer wants to be, he added.

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