Meet the European Champions confident of upsetting Man City

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Manchester City’s appointment of Pep Guardiola as manager almost automatically moved them among the favourites for this season’s Champions League.

The Spaniard’s presence hasn’t seemed to bother City’s opponents in the competition’s play-off round though, with Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali confident of sending the Citizens packing at the earliest opportunity.

After being drawn against the Etihad Stadium giants for the final qualifying phase before the group stages, Becali said:

“We have five killers in the team. We’ll destroy City with Popa, Hamroun and Stanciu. Then I’ll sell Stanciu for 20million euros!”

Referring to Chelsea target Nicolae Stanciu, who played twice in midfield for Romania at Euro 2016, Algerian defender Jugurtha Hamroun and 28-year-old Adrian Popa, Becali was clearly pleased with the draw. However, his manager was more reserved.

“I’m happy with the draw. City will motivate my players. Maybe we’ll do something outstanding and qualify.

“We have a small chance and we have to make the most of it,” Laurentiu Reghecampf said.

Steaua, nicknamed The Army Men, won the European Cup in 1985/86, famously beating Barcelona on penalties after drawing 0-0 in 90 minutes.

Last season Reghecampf’s men finished second in Liga I. Stanciu top scored with 12 goals, while Hamroun chipped in with seven. The finish saw them enter the Champions League in the third qualifying round.

They defeated Sparta Prague 3-1 on aggregate to set up their clash with City and are 11/2 to beat the Premier League favourites in the first leg at home.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.