De Bruyne out to make new, better memories in Champs League
Kevin De Bruyne really wants to play in a second Champions League final because he barely remembers his first.
The Manchester City midfielder sustained a fractured nose and eye socket during the 1-0 loss to Chelsea in Porto in May after colliding with Antonio Rudiger. Looking dazed and confused, De Bruyne needed to be helped off the field in the 60th minute and was taken to hospital.
De Bruyne said Monday he doesn’t remember anything from the moment the collision occurred to when he returned to the team hotel the next day, still in pain.
“It was like 10 o’clock in the morning and I still had my City kit on,” De Bruyne said ahead of a return to his native Belgium for City’s Group A tie with Club Brugge on Tuesday. “That’s what I remember.”
It was a disappointing way to mark the biggest club match of his career and De Bruyne encountered further pain in the European Championship the following month after missing Belgium’s first group game as he recovered from his injuries.
In a victory over Portugal in the round of 16, De Bruyne had to be substituted with an ankle injury after a tackle from behind because — as he put it Monday — “my ligament snapped.”
He was clearly in discomfort when playing in Belgium’s loss to Italy in the quarterfinals and, 3½ months later, he has only just recovered full fitness.
Scoring goals in his last two Premier League games — against Liverpool before the international break and Burnley on Saturday — is a sign he is coming back into the kind of form that has seen him voted by his peers as English soccer’s player of the year the last two seasons.
“Every game is better than the game before,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “Apart from the goals and the assists, it is the dynamic, the rhythm, the pace that you only get when you play regularly.
“He is a guy, Kevin, who needs to be fit to be the best. His potential is his movement, how he attacks the space, how he moves.”
City has yet to win the Champions League despite the heavy spending of its Abu Dhabi ownership since 2008 but has become a regular in the latter stages of the competition, reaching the quarterfinals for three straight seasons before getting to the final for the first time.
De Bruyne, who has won the Premier League three times with City and nine major trophies in total, does not believe winning the Champions League will define his legacy at the club he joined in 2015 from German team Wolfsburg.
“I think people will always set the standard higher and higher, and because of what we did in England for the past five-to-six years, people expect us to win the Champions League and that’s what we want to do,” he said.
“Doesn’t say we are going to win it but we are always going to compete for it. We are trying and hopefully in my period here we will get one.”
City is third in the group — a point behind its opponent — after a 2-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the second round of games.
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