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Champions League now vital for Manchester City

Dynamo Kiev winger Andriy Yarmolenko poses a major threat to Manchester City's defence in the Champions League last-16

Dynamo Kiev winger Andriy Yarmolenko poses a major threat to Manchester City’s defence in the Champions League last-16

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini chose to field a youthful line-up in the Citizens 5-1 FA Cup fifth round defeat at Chelsea.

His group of youngsters kept the score at 1-1 in the first half, but Chelsea’s experienced team took advantage of City’s naivety in the second half with four goals.

Pellegrini argued the decision was taken due to injuries to a number of his first team squad, which was true to an extent.

The real reason was because they had a Champions League last-16 clash with Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday night.

A very tricky tie

A last-16 draw against Dynamo Kiev may at first seemed like a favourable one for Pellegrini and his team. However this tie definitely looks like the proverbial banana skin of tie.

The long trip to Kiev and back is really not what City needed with a Capital One Cup final on Sunday as well, having just played at Chelsea on Sunday. Pellegrini has talked about the FA not doing his team any favours in the timing of the FA Cup fifth round tie.

He has a point, but this is the sort of situation that comes along when a club is challenging for so many trophies and it’s a situation I am sure most City fans are happy to be in. In truth the Citizens should have enough players to cope with the current injury situation.

Dynamo will be no pushovers for City and will no doubt put up a tough fight in the Champions League. The Ukrainian side showed their mettle against Chelsea in the group stages by drawing at home and coming within ten minutes of taking a draw at Stamford Bridge.

One factor that may work against Dynamo is that the Ukrainian team have not played a competitive game since December. Their ring-rustiness may hamper their performance, despite playing friendly games. They do have some quality players in their squad though.

Highly-rated winger Andriy Yarmolenko will pose a big threat to City. The Ukrainian international has been heavily linked with moves to the Premier League with both Everton and Arsenal. A good display against City will only enhance his reputation among those interested English observers.

Mental toughness required

We have got to the stage of the season when mental toughness is just as important as the player’s physical conditions. City have now suffered three consecutive defeats in all competitions and that will surely effect the players confidence.

The Citizens have spent a lot of money strengthening their squad, but the City players are only human and will have doubts about their chances of success this season. Those doubts will need to be overcome if they are to win silverware.

Need to make history

Manchester City have never made it to the Champions League quarter-finals and are odds of 5/4 to win the first leg of their last-16 tie against their Ukrainian opponents.

The Citizens still have a chance of winning three trophies this season, with City still in contention to win the Capital One Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League. The way City has been playing in recent weeks the Premier League title seems to be drifting away from them.

The Capital One Cup final this Sunday pits City against the Jekyll and Hyde of the top-flight Liverpool, who will be in action in the Europa League against Augsburg on Thursday night.

The Reds defeated City 4-1 earlier this season at Etihad Stadium and are just so unpredictable, but if they play to their full potential they could really trouble the fragile confidence of those City players.

The fact that City could easily lose the Capital One Cup and are so far behind in the race for the top-flight makes their Champions League campaign even more important.

The next five days could be crucial in Manchester City’s season. They could determine whether City finish the campaign with a trophy or not this season. A trophy-less campaign would be an absolute disaster for the men from Manchester.

Are Manchester City realistic contenders to win the Champions League?

Tue 23 Feb, 2016
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