Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho has urged his team-mates to grasp the opportunity of claiming a Champions League quarter-final place when they host Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men are strongly positioned to reach the last eight of the tournament for the first time following an impressive 3-1 first-leg triumph in the Ukrainian capital, where Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure were on target.
Fernandinho’s midfield colleague Toure is a doubt for the match with a heel injury but, when set against the experience of nursing last-16 deficits before being knocked out by Barcelona in each of the past two seasons, the Brazil international knows Manuel Pellegrini’s team have been dealt a favourable hand.
“Of course, this is the first time we have a chance to go forward to the quarter-finals,” he told City’s official website. “This is a big step for the club, for everyone here.
“This should give us more motivation to play very well on Tuesday.”
In contrast to previous European campaigns, where City have struggled to match strong domestic performances, their best displays this term have arguably come on the Champions League stage – most notably in wins at Sevilla and last time out in Kiev.
Their bid to win a third Premier League win in five seasons has stalled badly alongside these highs, with Saturday’s dispiriting 0-0 draw at struggling Norwich City leaving Fernandinho to concede that the Champions League represents a more realistic chance of further silverware this term for the League Cup winners.
“We will see what happens with other results but it is tough to drop points like we did,” he said.
“We have nine [Premier League] games to play and even if you don’t have chance to fight for the title, the most important thing now is to fight for the top four.”
Kevin De Bruyne (knee) Samir Nasri (thigh/tendon) and Fabian Delph (Achilles) will all remain on the sidelines until after this month’s international break, although Pellegrini should still be confident of seeing off opponents who have failed to win in 13 competitive visits to England – losing 11 of those matches.
Speaking after Friday’s 2-1 Ukrainian Premier League win at Karpaty Lviv, a victory that helped send them three points clear at the top, Sergei Rebrov confirmed Mykola Morozyuk would remain on the sidelines for “a month or two” due to a “serious” knee injury.
Dynamo defender Yevhen Khacheridi is keen to at least restore some of the pride lost on home turf against City.
“We don’t want to make same mistakes we had in Kiev. It will be difficult to win, but we’ll try to do that,” Khacheridi told Komanda.
Key Opta stats:
– Manchester City have only kept one clean sheet in their 17 Champions League home games – a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in December 2011.
– City have scored six goals in the final 15 minutes of Champions League matches this season, more than any other side in the competition.
– Dynamo Kiev have won only four of their last 34 Champions League away games, with seven draws and 23 defeats during this period.
– Sergio Aguero has scored 16 goals in his previous 17 Champions League starts.
– City’s five yellow cards in seven Champions League matches this season is the lowest total of any team in the competition.