Belfast Telegraph

Samir Nasri: Manchester City players must deliver or face Etihad exit

By Ian Herbert

Manchester City's Samir Nasri has said that the club's players face being sold in the summer if they are eliminated from the Champions League by Bayern Munich tonight.

City will be out of the competition if they continue their dismal group stage by failing to beat the Germans and there is also a winner from the game between AS Roma and CSKA Moscow.

Nasri said that the club's two Premier League trophies in the past three years did not entitle City to consider themselves a "top club" and that the players were too highly paid to let the Abu Dhabi owners down once again.

"Let's be honest, we need to do something or otherwise next year it is going to be new players, it's going to be new everything," said Nasri, who has the relative security of a new five-year contract, signed last summer.

"That's how we work when you play for a big team, a big club. You have to respond and show everyone you deserve to qualify.

"In the last three years I have been here, we have won the league twice and been runners-up, but now we have to improve in the Champions League if we want to be a top club.

"It's not enough to be top in your league if you don't do anything in the Champions League.

"With the players we have, the owner gives us his trust and we have to return it in the Champions League."

City have mustered two points and only four goals from their four games, with players such as Yaya Touré, Fernando and Gaël Clichy a profound disappointment and captain Vincent Kompany also failing to reach the required level.

The City players would consider themselves failures if they were eliminated, said 27-year-old Nasri. "Of course (we would). With the salary of every player and the level of those players, 90 per cent of the team is world class, then not to qualify from the first round of the Champions League would be a huge blow for the club - and for us as well.

"The thing in the Champions League is not just the talent. It's not being a team. It's the experience as well. We need to show that we are smart players and to use what happened in the last couple of years to improve.

"We still have a chance and we need to take it. Now is the moment."

Nasri defended City's manager, Manuel Pellegrini, against accusations that he has allowed players to slip into a comfort zone, by being less confrontational than his predecessor Roberto Mancini.

"For the moment we don't perform in the Champions League and that is a reality," he said.

"That is nothing to do with a comfort zone. The manager doesn't give anyone comfort in what happened last year. It's forgotten."

The Frenchman said the lesson should be learnt from the season after they won the title under Mancini, when they finished 11 points behind Manchester United and lost in the first stage of the Champions League.

"We need to use what happened under Mancini in the second year," he said of the manager he came to abhor.

"We don't want to repeat the same mistake. We are really lucky that we are two points behind with two games left and have a chance to qualify. We need to take it now because we are not going to have any favours from anyone else any more."

Mathematically, City are still in the competition if they lose tonight and the group's other sides draw, but they would need to win by around six goals in Rome's Stadio Olimpico next month.

Pellegrini, without the suspended Touré and Fernandinho, admitted this was "our last chance".

Both Nasri and Martin Demichelis said they believed that Bayern - who have already won the group - would field a weakened team, but Pep Guardiola's squad is too injury hit to make substantial changes.

"I know the German mentality is always the same," said Demichelis, a Bayern player for seven years until 2010. "I am sure they will come here to win."

Only two teams - Porto and Locomotiv Moscow - have taken two points or fewer from the opening four groups games and still managed to qualify.

Manchester City v Bayern Munich - the key players

Sergio Aguero: City need their talisman Aguero to fire on the European stage to help dig them out of their Champions League hole. They have collected just two points from four Champion League game. The prolific Argentinian has scored 14 goals this season, but only two of them in the Champions League.

Robert Lewandowski: Polish striker Lewandowski made a slow start to his Bayern Munich career after his high-profile summer move from Borussia Dortmund, but now seems to be finding his feet with six goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances - including one against his former club earlier this month.

Man City v Bayern Munich, Champions League, Etihad Stadium, 7.45pm (ITV1)

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