TURIN (Reuters) – Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini underlined the importance of the injury-hit Premier League team winning their Champions League group as he targeted a victory over Juventus in Turin on Wednesday.
City have already qualified for the knockout stages but are determined to avoid their fate of the last two campaigns when they went through only as group runners-up, drew Barcelona in the last 16 and suffered early exits.
If they beat Juve they will secure top spot in Group D and, despite a lengthy injury list and the poverty of their last outing — a 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday — Pellegrini believes his side can prevail.
City have nine points with two games left, one ahead of Juve, with Sevilla on three and Borussia Moenchengladbach two.
“We qualified (for the last 16) in the last two years and were very unlucky to get the same draw against Barcelona,” Pellegrini told a news conference on Tuesday.
“This year, I think it’s important to be at the top of the group, not only to try to avoid Barcelona or another important team. It’s also a test for us to try to win in a difficult stadium in Turin that would allow us to win the group.”
Pellegrini wants to see a similar excellent performance to the one which saw City win 3-1 in Sevilla in their last European outing.
“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 ourselves.”
Pellegrini said it had not taken long for City to get the Liverpool result out of their system.
“I think that we finished on Sunday morning with the very bad game we played on Saturday. It’s a different competition now.
“I think we were very unlucky when we lost the first game in our stadium (2-1 to Juventus). So I hope tomorrow we will turn around to our normal performance.”
City’s injury troubles will not help, though.
“We have too many players injured,” Pellegrini added. “(Pablo) Zabaleta, (captain Vincent) Kompany and (Eliaquim) Mangala in defence, (Samir) Nasri, (David) Silva in midfield and (Wilfried) Bony in attack.”
(Writing by Ian Chadband in London, editing by Ken Ferris)