Manchester City face European champions Bayern Munich tonight at the Etihad Stadium on match day two of the Champions League.
City claimed a 3-0 victory away at Czech club Viktoria Plzen in their opening game, while Bayern defeated Russian club CSKA Moscow by the same score line at the Allianz Arena.
The last two seasons Manchester City have been handed nightmare draws in the Champions League. The Citizens were in the ‘Group of Death’ last season alongside Real Madrid, eventual finalists Dortmund and Ajax.
The Premier League club finished bottom of the group with just three points and failed to even win a game in the competition.
To say that it was a disappointing campaign for City would be a major understatement.
Of course Manchester City were at that time managed by former-Inter boss Roberto Mancini. The Italian did not do a bad job at all when it came to domestic football, winning the Premier League title not to mention an FA Cup in the prior season.
However, the Champions League has always caused the Italian problems. Even in his time at Inter, the Nerazzurri dominated their domestic league, but failed to make a mark in the Champions League.
It seems that Mancini was destined to failure in the competition. However, just a few days ago the Italian was appointed as boss of Turkish champions Galatasaray, who are also in the Champions League and face a tough trip to Italian champions Juventus tonight.
If I was a Gala I would not hold out much hope of Mancini leading the Turkish giant’s European glory, because it seems he has a blind spot for Champions League.
While Mancini has spent years underachieving with powerful clubs, Manuel Pellegrini has been forging a good reputation with underdogs. The Chilean led Villarreal to the semi-finals of the competition in 2006, were they narrowly lost out to Premier League Arsenal.
Perhaps even more impressively Pellegrini led Malaga to the quarter-finals of the competition last season in their debut season in the competition, where they were knocked out by finalists Dortmund. Malaga’s performance was all the more extraordinary considering that the club was going through a financial crisis, in which players were not paid.
The new Manchester City boss may never have won the Champions League, or any major trophy in Europe, but he is one of the more intelligent bosses in the game. He is a clever tactician and is the ideal boss for knockout football.
His methods may not have quite been fully instilled in the Manchester City players just yet, but when they are I am sure you will see an improvement in team’s consistency.
This is Pellegrini’s big opportunity to prove to everybody his managerial acumen. He was rather unlucky at Real Madrid to be only given one season. However, not many bosses could have won La Liga competing against Barcelona at their peak under Pep Guardiola.
The Chilean will renew acquaintances with his former-rival this evening as Bayern roll up at the Etihad Stadium. The former-Barcelona boss has a seven match unbeaten record in the Bundesliga so far this season, but has still come under-fire from certain sections of the German press.
Unlike Pellegrini, Guardiola has won this competition on two occasions with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. Bayern arrive with a superb recent record in the Champions League having won the last six games in the competition scoring 16 goals and conceding just one.
This game should be an exciting one for the neutrals. Manchester City have been very unpredictable of late and it is difficult to know which City will turn up. The Citizens were superb in the 4-1 win over Manchester United, but then lost 3-2 to Aston Villa in their last Premier League outing.
Bayern are on an unbeaten run in the Bundesliga and are currently only behind arch-rivals Dortmund on goal difference. However, they have had injury-problems in midfield, which City will look to exploit this evening.
This should be a tight contest, with big things expected from both of these teams this season. This game is definitely not one to miss.
The visitors are currently slight favourites to claim victory at 11/8, while City are 9/4 and a draw is 12/5. It really is hard to decide between the two teams, but I have a sneaky feeling for City in this one.
Can Manchester City defeat the European champions at the Etihad Stadium?