Manchester City latest: Barca expected, Mangala challenged, youngster set to depart

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Milner ready for Barca

James Milner believes the stage is now set for Manchester City to make a deep run through the Champions League knockout stages, even though he fully expects to face Barcelona in the last-16.

City's chances of making it past the group stages appeared improbable only three weeks ago after they took just two points from their first four games, but a 3-2 home win over Bayern Munich instilled newfound hope.

Then, despite being without key men Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure for the final match in Roma, City completed their recovery to take second place in Group E with a 2-0 win, and Milner believes they have at last got to grips with the competition.

"We will take it step by step but I definitely think the quality is there to go far in this competition," he told Sky Sports.

"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but the more seasons we play in the Champions League, and the more games we play in it, the experience helps and we get better as a team.

"We like drawing the same teams, and we like getting tough draws so it will probably be Barcelona again," he added.

"We know we can beat anyone on our day, and we will see who it throws up. Wherever we go, we will go there confident because we are coming into a vein of form, and have a few players coming back."

Howey challenges Mangala

£32 million summer signing Eliaquim Mangala was another of the hero's from Wednesday night's win in Rome, following what's been a testing first few months in Manchester.

Arriving from Porto to high expectations, the French centre-back has put in a series of calamitous displays for Manuel Pellegrini's side, and former City defender Steve Howey says it's time for him to step up or risk falling entirely out of favour.

"In no way, shape or form am I saying he’s a poor player, he is a good player, but when you get brought in for that amount of money you are expected to hit the ground running," he told TalkSport.

“He has found it a little bit difficult and Martin Demichelis was the same but he seemed to come into some form and then for some reason he found himself out of the team.

“If Man City are to make a real fist of everything, domestic and Champions League, I think they do need someone who is just as strong, or can certainly be a help to Vincent Kompany.”

Rusnak set for permanent departure

City youngster Albert Rusnak is set to leave the club on a permanent basis to join Groningen, according to ESPN FC.

Rusnak, 20, is currently on loan at Eredivisie side Cambuur Leeuwarden until January, where he has recorded three goals and three assists in 15 league games to help the club up to eighth spot in the table.

Cambuur were keen to extend his stay and make the move permanent, but his fine form has not gone unnoticed among other clubs in the Eredivisie and across Europe, with Groningen reported to be the front-runners for the promising winger's signature.

Rusnak joined City as a 16-year-old from FC Kosice in 2010 but is yet to make a first-team appearance for the Premier League club, having struggled to break into the star-studded squad.

Talks are thought to be at an advanced stage between Groningen and City, with the player believed to have agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal to join the Dutch side and end his spell at the Etihad Stadium.

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