Roberto Mancini’s side will have to box clever if they intend to make it out of the group. Only two teams progress to the knock-out rounds and, to make matters worse for the City Blues, finishing second would see them face even tougher opposition should they make it out the group.
Tonight they travel to the Bernabeu in possibly the toughest fixture of their group stage. The La Liga champions, however, are in the midst of a coup, as manager Jose Mourinho tries to hold together a squad of discontented players – the most notable being Cristiano Ronaldo.
Whilst City face a stern test, they have timing on their side as the fractured Madrid side look to secure their 10th European Cup/Champion’s League trophy.
Mourinho has publicly taken the blame for Madrid’s poor start in La Liga:
"I am the one responsible for this dreadful start to the season," Mourinho conceded, "I have not been able to create a committed group, I have not ensured that football was the biggest priority in the life of the players.”
However, any team with Mourinho at the helm is a threat – the Portuguese manager has entered himself into the records books, winning the Champion’s League with two different clubs – Porto and Inter Milan – and he’s desperate to win again with Real Madrid.
The mind games have already commenced between the two managers as Mourinho ‘goaded’ Mancini, speculating whether the Italian could win the Champion’s League with Man City:
“I don’t know if it will be this season or next, whether with Roberto or somebody else, but sooner or later they can win the Big Cup. I don’t know if it will be Roberto.”
image: © apasciuto