Manuel Pellegrini urges Manchester City to blunt Bayern's attack
Man City 2 Swansea 1
In the Premier League, Manchester City have proved themselves adept at grabbing lifelines. But for their ability to win when it absolutely mattered, the two championships they collected might very easily have gone to Old Trafford or Anfield.
In the Champions League, however, the ropes have snapped almost every time City have reached for them and the one dangling in front of Manuel Pellegrini this morning is almost worn through.
Bayern Munich possess perhaps the sharpest edge in football. Should they cut their way through at the Etihad tomorrow night, the men from Abu Dhabi may start seriously looking for a new manager.
"As a team we never think our chances have gone," said Pellegrini after a 2-1 win over Swansea City that was settled by Yaya Toure and was rather harder than Bayern's 4-0 rout of Hoffenheim on Saturday.
"Other teams have played badly in the groups and gone on to win the Champions League but we have made important mistakes, especially against CSKA Moscow.
"We know we must have the personality to be aggressive against Bayern from the beginning. We have to try to recover the ball as soon as we can with good pressing and then try not to lose it with easy passes. They must become a little bit tired trying to recover the ball and must not be fresh when they counter-attack."
His players might respond: "Is that all?" But in similar circumstances last December, City went to the Allianz Arena and won 3-2, not realising that another goal would have sent them through as group winners. Realistically, they have to win - without the injured David Silva or the suspended Toure.
The hope must be that Bayern, who have not only qualified but won the group, will come to Manchester not overly bothered by the result. In similar circumstances, Sir Alex Ferguson would have blooded some of United's kids and risked defeat. Pellegrini does not expect a similar favour from Pep Guardiola.
"Bayern never take it easy," he said. "Big teams never take one game more easily than the other. They must fulfil their obligation to win and we are going to see a very good Bayern on Tuesday."
What kind of City will be on display is another question. Their captain, Vincent Kompany, thought they had played well against Swansea apart from the opening 20 minutes. It goes without saying that a poor opening 20 minutes against a side like Bayern Munich is usually fatal.