BAYERN MUNICH vs MANCHESTER CITY
MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini has reiterated his belief that the Premier League upstarts can ignite their maiden Champions League campaign with victory at one of Europe’s traditional superpowers.
Mancini joked in the aftermath of the 1-1 draw at home to Napoli – City’s opening Group A fixture – that his team would make up for the dropped points by going to Germany’s biggest side and winning.
It was a tongue-in-cheek remark from a man enjoying his best spell at the club, but the Italian was not joking yesterday when he insisted they could reasonably expect three points from their toughest fixture.
“Why not? We are not here to lose,” he said. “We know it will be difficult but we want to win if possible. I am certainly satisfied with the progress we have made, even if we need to improve a lot.
“Now we are a good team. But if we want to arrive on the top like Bayern Munich, who have such a big history, we need to work very hard. Against Napoli we just wanted to win. With that pressure you can make some mistakes. Here it will be different because we know it will be a tough game. I am sure we will do well.”
Mancini has midfielder Nigel de Jong fit again after his recovery from a foot injury, while striker Carlos Tevez is pressing for a place, especially with Mario Balotelli suspended.
Even without the precocious Italian, City are spoiled for choice in attack and midfielder David Silva, who has arguably shone brightest of an all-star line-up, believes they should take the game to Bayern.
City, who have already racked up 22 goals in eight games, meet perhaps the biggest test of their potency yet in a team who are currently enjoying a run of nine successive clean sheets.
“I think we can attack them like we do at home; we can stick to our footballing principles. We don’t have to change our style against other teams home or away,” said Silva.
“We believe in what we are doing and have confidence in each other so we will keep doing the same things. The truth is Napoli played very well against us. They are a strong team. But against Bayern we will try the same things – to keep the ball, play with the same style and get a positive result.”
Tonight’s fixture is a first return to Bayern as a City player by Owen Hargeaves. The former England midfielder, who made a goalscoring return from a three-year injury nightmare in the Carling Cup last week, is not expected to start.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY | BAYERN MUNICH
After the ignominy of having to pre-qualify for the Champions League, Bayern have begun the current campaign in imperious form. They’ve won six of their seven league matches scoring 21 goals, including a 7-0 thrashing of Freiburg earlier this month. They began their European assault with a 2-0 win away against Villarreal.
Veteran Jupp Heynckes, 66, is back for his third spell at the club and the early indications suggest this could be the most successful reign of them all. He won two league titles with Bayern in the late 1980s before embarking on a successful career in Spain which saw him steer Real Madrid to Champions League glory in 1998. Last year he guided Bayer Leverkusen back into European football’s premier club competition for the first time since 2004.
Striker Mario Gomez (left) endured a mediocre first year at Bayern but responded by landing the Bundesliga Golden Boot last season, scoring 28 goals in an underperforming side. The 26-year-old Germany international already has eight goals to his name this season.