City edges closer to last 16
05 November 2013, 11:33
Manchester - Manuel Pellegrini is on the verge of a "great achievement" as his Manchester City side host CSKA Moscow on Tuesday looking for a win that will seal progress from Group D.
Qualification for the round of 16 should be the bare minimum expected of Manchester City according to Manuel Pellegrini as his second-placed team gear up for the visit of CSKA Moscow.
The Chilean coach would nonetheless consider progress – attainable with victory on Tuesday – from Uefa Champions League Group D as a "great achievement" after two previous failures at this stage. His CSKA counterpart Leonid Slutski, meanwhile, is eager to make light of the Russian outfit's underdog status and "prove people wrong".
If City win, they are through and CSKA are out unless FC Viktoria Plzen beat Bayern Munich.
Manuel Pellegrini, manager
I don't know when Joe [Hart] will come back into the team. It is very important for him to have a rest as he's played all the matches for the last two and a half years, so [Costel] Pantilimon will play tomorrow. Joe has reacted very well – nobody wants to be left out but I think it will be useful for him
For Manchester City, [getting through the group stage] would be a great achievement. We all know what happened in the last two years, so for a club that is always trying to grow every day, progression in Europe is very important.
[It was] a very close game in Russia and I expect that it will be the same tomorrow. It is not easy to talk about what can happen in the future. We have a very good squad and the minimum they need to achieve is to qualify for the round of 16 – after that anything can happen. We will take tomorrow as the first step.
Saturday: Manchester City 7-0 Norwich City FC (Johnson og 16, Silva 20, Nastasic 25, Negredo 36, Touré 60, Agüero 71, Džeko 86)
Pantilimon; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Nastasic, Clichy; Nasri (Milner 71), Fernandinho, Touré, Silva (Navas 73); Agüero, Negredo (Džeko 45).
While the pre-match headlines were about Hart being relegated to the bench, his fellow England goalkeeper John Ruddy was beaten seven times as City claimed their biggest top-flight win for 45 years. Pantilimon made his Premier League debut.
Álvaro Negredo should play, but Vincent Kompany and Richard Wright will not, while Pellegrini reckons that Stevan Jovetic needs another three weeks to recover from his calf problem.
Leonid Slutski, coach
We know that Manchester City are firm favourites to win tomorrow, but we'll do our best to prove people wrong. It is a vital game so I expect City to fight for every ball and play to their maximum. We will need to be at our best to get a positive result.
We can't worry about how well Manchester City played at the weekend, they are a very strong team. It's important to test Pantilimon but it won't change the way we play. Obviously we know more about Joe Hart but we'll see what happens.
Saturday: FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod 1-2 CSKA Moskva (Shelton 30; Doumbia 34, Tošic 73)
Akinfeev; Nababkin, A. Berezutski, Ignashevich, Schennikov; Milanov (Elm 69), Wernbloom; Tošic, Honda, Musa (Zuber 69); Doumbia (Bazelyuk 90).
CSKA won for the second time in a row after a five-match winless streak. Ex-Manchester United winger Zoran Tošic took his tally to five goals in CSKA's last three games, and seven in eight outings for club and country.
Rasmus Elm made his first appearance since sustaining a calf injury in mid-October on Saturday. Alan Dzagoev (hamstring), Mário Fernandes (knee) and Aleksandrs Cauna (broken toe) remain sidelined.
While this is City's first home meeting with Russian opposition, CSKA have visited England four times in the past decade – earning a draw on each of their last three visits including a 3-3 at Manchester United on this matchday four years ago.