Manchester clubs set sights on Champions League knockout stage
Manchester City finished bottom of their European group last season, although Manuel Pellegrini’s side are in a strong position to make the last sixteen this time around.
November 5th, 2013
Wins away to Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow mean that City have six points going into Tuesday night’s clash against the Russian side, with a victory practically taking them into the knockout stage of the competition.
Some would argue that the Citizens have been handed a favourable draw this season compared to the opponents with which Roberto Mancini had to contend, although Pellegrini would still regard progress as a significant milestone.
He said: “For Manchester City it would be a really great achievement. We all know what happened the last two years – they couldn’t get to the round of 16. For a club that is trying to grow every day, to go to the next round is very important.”
Pablo Zabaleta echoed his manager’s thoughts, saying: “We know that the owners been spending much money to try and build a good team and try to have one of the best teams in Europe.
“Sometimes it takes time. We won the FA Cup and the Premier League, (but) the Champions League is a different competition. You play against the best teams in Europe. It is time for this club to take a step forward.”
Meanwhile, Manchester United are in a similar position ahead of their match away to Real Sociedad, having collected seven points from their opening three games.
David Moyes might hand Adnan Januzaj his first Champions League start, with the manager expecting a tough encounter in Spain.
“I certainly won’t take anything for granted,” said Moyes.
“I have a lot of respect for Sociedad, and we will have to play well on Tuesday if we are going to get those 10 points which will get us over the line.”
David De Gea added: “It’s very difficult to play at the level Real Madrid and Barcelona are at.
“They might not be at the top level yet but it’s obvious Real Sociedad have been playing great football over the years.”