Belfast Telegraph

With his 'fantastic' front men, Manchester City manager has no fears about Munich

By Simon Stone

Manchester City's opponents in the Champions League tonight have just completed a run of nine games in all competitions without conceding a goal.

But Roberto Mancini refuses to be intimidated by that statistic - and insists his team can win in the German giants' Allianz Arena.

"Why not?" said the City manager.

"We are not here to lose. 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.

"This is the second game for us in the Champions League. 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."

Bayern may have been ultra-tight at the back, but they have yet to face a club that can boast as much fire-power as mega-rich City.

"I have four fantastic strikers," said Mancini, whose conundrum over who to choose tonight is eased slightly by the absence of Mario Balotelli through suspension.

He added: "I can't play four strikers in all the games. Mario played against Everton. Carlos could have a chance against Bayern.

"I will decide the team in the morning. I am sure that I can choose well because I have Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero to pick from."

Mancini hopes a fairly significant lesson has been learned from the opening game against Napoli a fortnight ago.

Then he felt City got swept up in the emotion of a momentous evening, went driving for the victory and nearly ended up getting beaten, with a thunderous Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick saving them from a crushing setback.

As Mancini knows only too well, such risks are not necessary at such an early stage of the competition.

"We wanted to beat Napoli, but we need to understand that in the Champions League you can also draw at home," he said.

"The most important thing is that we get 10 points to reach the second stage.

"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 tomorrow."

Mancini must decide whether to stick with the team that ground out a precious three points against Everton, or freshen things up.

Such a move may bring Nigel de Jong into contention after his recent foot problem and also Tevez after the Argentina star was overlooked completely at the weekend.

Of English club's 15 trips to face Bayern in competitive combat, only once has a team emerged victorious, the accolade belonging to Norwich in a Uefa Cup second-round encounter 18 years ago.

There has been a close bond between Munich and Manchester ever since 23 people - including eight Manchester United players - perished on a plane trying to take off after a refuelling stop in 1958.

The event and the names of those who died have gone down in history. City shed tears too, a fact the club have emphasised over the last few years as they have manfully tried to eradicate the disgraceful anti-United Munich chants.

And club secretary Bernard Halford will lead a delegation that will lay a wreath in honour of the fallen, which included former City goalkeeper Frank Swift, who became a journalist upon his retirement from the game.

Belfast Telegraph


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