[QODLink]
Football

Real crunch match for Man City

Manchester City are at the top of the English Premier League but also on the brink of an early Champions League exit.
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2012 17:02
Cristiano Ronaldo (L) is one of the main dangers to City's Champions League aspirations [Reuters]

For the second straight season, Manchester City face elimination from the group stage of the Champions League unless players who have failed to live up to their price tags can find a way to beat Real Madrid.

The underperforming English champions are last in Group D with only two points from four matches after opening the campaign with a 3-2 loss at Madrid.

"It is very difficult, because probably we did some mistakes in the first game," City manager Roberto Mancini said on Tuesday.

Mancini will make a late decision on whether striker Mario Balotelli's back has recovered in time for him to face Madrid.

"Yesterday he trained with the physio and tomorrow and today he will train with the team and we will see if he can play," Mancini said.

The pressure on Mancini has been lifted slightly by City rising to the top of the Premier League on Saturday for the first time in their title defence.

But it's in Europe where the top teams are judged, and for some City players the last two Group D matches could now only be a matter of pride.

"Unlikely as it is that we will go through, we want to win our remaining two games and give ourselves at least half a chance," City winger James Milner said.

"And if that's not good enough, at least we can finish with our heads held high."

On the attack

Madrid are second in Group D, one point behind Borussia Dortmund and three ahead of Ajax.

But Madrid have stumbled in their last two matches, losing at Dortmund and then being held by the German champions at home two week ago.

"We have a good chance of winning in Manchester if we impose our attacking strength," Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira said.

"The quality of this team is incredibly high and... we definitely have to concentrate on trying to play our own way there, not letting ourselves to be influenced by the opponent's style"

Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira

"The quality of this team is incredibly high and... we definitely have to concentrate on trying to play our own way there, not letting ourselves to be influenced by the opponent's style."

Madrid's passage to the knockout phase would be guaranteed with a game spare with a win in Manchester, where Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing for the first time since leaving United in 2009.

"Tomorrow he should have more attention on him, not only the other players... because he's a player that can change the game alone," Mancini said.

Winger Denis Cheryshev has been called into the Madrid squad, with midfielder Michael Essien and forward Alvaro Morata sidelined.

Dortmund are the only unbeaten team in Group D and to advance only need a draw at Ajax, who have never been beaten at home by German opposition.

"I have a lot of respect for Ajax," Dortmund defender Neven Subotic said.

"They don't allow themselves to be shaken up."

497

Source:
AP
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
A revolutionary new treatment is halving hospitalisation rates for severe asthma sufferers.
The conservative UMP party suffers from crippling internal divisions and extreme debt from mismanagement.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
join our mailing list