Homecoming offers Sane chance to show Germany what it missed

A fortnight after it lost to Lyon at home, its Group F match against Hoffenheim has become significant for Manchester City.

Leroy Sane assisted Bernardo Silva's goal against Lyon and will once again be key to Manchester City's chances of resurrecting its Champions League campaign.   -  AFP

Manchester City travels to Hoffenheim on Tuesday, desperately needing a win to resurrect a Champions League campaign that began with a 2-1 defeat to Lyon.

There should, therefore, be no shortage of motivation for Pep Guardiola's men, but one member of the City squad will be especially keen to make a big impression back on German soil.

Leroy Sane was one of the stars of City's romp to a record 100 Premier League points and the League Cup last season. The 22-year-old was crowned Young Player of the Year in England thanks to a stellar return of 14 goals and 19 assists in all competitions.

However, that wasn't enough to earn him a place in Germany's World Cup squad as Sane was surprisingly cut from Joachim Loew's 23.

Read: Sterling, Sane's consistency impresses Guardiola

Sane may have had the last laugh as the defending champion crashed out in the group stages -- the first time in 80 years Germany had fallen at the first hurdle.

The pace, direct running and eye for a quick shot at goal possessed by the former Schalke winger were all traits missing from a laboured and predictable Germany in Russia.

Let down by body language

Yet, there was no time for Sane to feel vindicated as on his return to club duty he was similarly shunned by Guardiola, sparking doubts over his attitude off the field.

“Sometimes you have the feeling with Leroy's body language that it is all the same whether we win or lose. He has to improve his body language,” said Germany's vice-captain Toni Kroos even as Sane was recalled to Loew's squad for last month's Nations League opener against newly crowned world champions France.

“He was fantastic for City last year but Pep has the same problem at the moment -- he's trying to get the best out of him so he can perform better.”

If Guardiola was looking for a reaction, he has got what he desired.

After being dropped for City's first four Premier League games of the season, Sane scored just two minutes into his return against Fulham and has created a goal in all three of his appearances since.

That included Bernardo Silva's consolation against Lyon as Sane came off the bench to transform a pedestrian first-half performance that has put City under pressure to bounce back this week.

“Leroy has played really good the last few games,” said Guardiola after Saturday's 2-0 win over Brighton in which Sane created Raheem Sterling's opening goal.

“Our profession is so demanding, we have to do our best every single day. I want all of my players to be focused.”

Guardiola is notoriously demanding of his players' professionalism. But having racked up titles in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City, the Catalan coach knows which players are worth persisting with.

“We never -- even in this period when he didn't play -- doubted Leroy's quality,” added Guardiola after Sane's instant impact against Fulham.

With his club manager's faith restored, Sane heads back to Germany with a perfect chance to show his compatriots, least of all Loew, what they were missing in a rare summer of sorrow at international level.