Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Champions League: City face uphill task to end Bayern`s record run

Champions League: City face uphill task to end Bayern`s record run

Champions League: City face uphill task to end Bayern`s record run
London: Coach Manuel Pellegrini admits Manchester City face an uphill task to break Bayern Munich`s record winning streak in the Champions League in Tuesday`s battle for top spot in Group D.

Bayern are on record runs in both the Bundesliga and Champions League and their 3-1 win at CSKA Moscow a fortnight ago was their tenth straight victory in Europe, breaking Barcelona`s previous record.

Bayern have turned the Allianz Arena into something of a fortress of late, winning all 18 home matches in all competitions since their last defeat in Munich last March at the hands of Arsenal.

Both City and Bayern sides are through to the knock-out stages and all that remains to be settled is who will finish top of the group.

The defending champions have won all of their five group games so far, including a dominant 3-1 win last October at City, who are three points behind the German side.

Pellegrini`s side would need to better that result at the Allianz Arena to knock Pep Guardiola`s Munich from top spot.

City have already pulled off a landmark achievement by reaching the Champions League`s knock-out stages, at the third attempt, with a 4-2 home win over Czech outfit Viktoria Pilsen at home a fortnight ago.

"We have qualified for the next round and this is very good," said Pellegrini.

"It would be better to be first in the group, but we have already played against a very strong Bayern Munich team.

"They played better than us (in Manchester) and it will be very difficult to beat them 3-0 at their ground.

"But we will try to do a very good match and we will try to win."

Despite beating CSKA Moscow and Pilsen on the road in Europe this season, City`s away record in the Premier League is poor with only two wins in eight away games, including Saturday`s 1-1 draw at Southampton.

Pellegrini is hoping to have Spanish playmaker David Silva back from injury.

The Spanish attacking midfielder has missed City`s last five matches due to a calf injury.

Germany captain Philipp Lahm could return for Bayern having missed the last few weeks with a hamstring injury, but Bayern are definitely without winger Arjen Robben.

The Dutchman is recovering from a deep thigh cut, but the European champions showed no signs of missing Robben, who had scored in each of his four matches before injury struck, when they romped to a 7-0 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday.

It was the Bavarian giants` 40th unbeaten Bundesliga match since losing to Bayer Leverkusen in October 2012 and Guardiola said he was `honoured` by his team`s performance.

France`s Franck Ribery showed he is back at his best after a rib injury with two goals and two assists in an outstanding display.

Despite becoming the first German team to win the treble of European, league and cup titles under Jupp Heynckes last season, his successor Guardiola is ensuring Bayern maintain their high standards.

"The coach never lets up," said centre-back Jerome Boateng.

"We were focused from the start (in Bremen) and we never let up, results like that happen when you play at such a frenzy."

Bayern face more international competition after the City game as they travel to Morocco to play in the Club World Cup and will want to finish their Champions League group campaign on a high.

"The team is happy, we have a great mentality, but we have to keep playing at that level," said Ribery with an eye on the City clash. AFP --------------

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