Manuel Pellegrini urged Manchester City to rediscover the swagger of their previous Champions League performance and put Saturday’s thrashing against Liverpool behind them when they take on Juventus in Turin.
City turned in an irresistible performance to dispatch Sevilla 3-1 at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan earlier this month, a victory that secured a place in the last 16 with two matches remaining.
A further win at Juventus Stadium would seal top spot in Group D but City head into the match under a cloud, having been dismantled 4-1 by Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
Pellegrini told a pre-match news conference that the hand-wringing over that humiliation was completed by the following morning and the manager believes his players are focused on the task at hand.
“We finished with the game that we played, a very bad game on Saturday, on Sunday morning,” he said.
“You can’t take the game on Saturday as the normal performance of our team.
“We need to play in Europe the same way as we did against Sevilla. We didn’t allow them chances and we had a lot of chances.
“Juventus have a very strong side. That’s why they won four straight titles and reached last year’s Champions League final.”
Pellegrini has now guided City to the knockout stages of the Champions League in each of his three seasons in charge – an improvement on the return of his predecessor Roberto Mancini, who oversaw consecutive group-stage eliminations in 2011 and 2012.
Nevertheless, qualifying as runners-up has resulted in City being dispatched with relative ease by Barcelona in consecutive last-16 ties, underlining the importance to Pellegrini of finishing top of the pile.
“I think it is very important to qualify for the third time in a row for the next stage of the Champions League,” he said.
“We qualified for the last two years and we were very unlucky to have the same draw against Barcelona.
“It is very important to finish top of the group, not just to avoid Barcelona, but to beat a big team like this in Turin.
“I thought we were very unlucky when we lost the first game in our stadium [a 2-1 defeat on matchday one] so I hope that tomorrow we will return to our normal performance.”
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