Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has promised his team will fight to the end to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
City host Bayern Munich in a crucial clash tonight knowing anything but victory could effectively end their hopes for another year.
Pellegrini’s men have claimed just two points from four games in Group E and will be eliminated if they fail to beat Bayern and there is a winner in the game between CSKA Moscow and Roma.
Scenarios do exist where City could progress without beating the Germans but they really have little margin for error.
City began the campaign with high hopes and looking to build on last season’s progress to the last 16. Their failure to make any apparent headway has brought criticism and scrutiny of Pellegrini but he remains confident in his players.
Pellegrini said: “I don’t think there is an extra pressure (on me). I think it is important for this club to try to continue in Europe because it is one of our targets, to improve every year and on what we did last year.
“Tomorrow we will see the team fighting until the end to continue in the Champions League and I hope we can do it.”
Pellegrini claims he takes no notice of the people who have already written off his side.
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The Chilean said: “I don’t know who those people are who don’t believe what we can do. I am sure this team - and me personally – have a lot of trust that we can do it. We will see tomorrow after the game what happens. I hope we will continue having chances to the last game.”
City have also looked laboured in the defence of their Barclays Premier League title and currently trail leaders Chelsea by eight points. Victory over a Bayern side already through to the last 16 might not only revive Champions League hopes but provide impetus for the rest of the season. Pellegrini said: “(It could have) an important impact. Nobody in the team is happy the way we have played this stage of the group. We have tomorrow, our last chance to try to win this year, to beat Bayern Munich and continue to have chances to go to the next stage.”
Bayern also have a number of injuries and are likely to field an under-strength team given that their place in the knockout stage is already assured. But Pellegrini is taking little notice of that as the Bavarians are unbeaten in the Bundesliga and have a 100 per cent record in the group. He said: “I think big teams have a squad and have other important names that play very well. I am sure we are going to have a very tough game.”
Phillip Lahm, David Alaba, Javi Martinez, Holger Badstuber and Thiago Alcantara are among the players missing for Bayern.
City also have important players missing with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho suspended and David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov and Edin Dzeko injured.
Strikers Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic are fit although the pair’s failure to take part in full training on the eve of the game did prompt questions.
Pellegrini said: “Both of them, Aguero and Jovetic, are in the squad list. They didn’t work normally because they have a small thing after the last game but nothing important.”
City and Bayern are meeting for the sixth time in four seasons and the fourth time since Pellegrini took charge last year.
Pellegrini said: “Against Bayern you have to play in a special way. We have faced them three times. We have won one and lost two games and we have approached the game in different ways. But I think it is very difficult to compare one season with another one.
“Last year they played very well here and won 3-1, but after that we went to Munich and won there.”
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