Manchester City hope black cloud has Silva lining
Manchester: Manager Roberto Mancini has already started contemplating life in the Europa League as Manchester City`s chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stages look bleak despite playmaker David Silva`s belief they can still win the whole competition.
The Premier League leaders host Bayern Munich in their final Group A match on Wednesday, needing to beat the group winners and hoping second-placed Napoli fail to win at Villarreal in order to progress to the last 16.
Mancini has rated his side`s chances of progressing at 30 percent but Silva is a lot more optimistic.
"Of course, we`ve got to do well in the Champions League and, well, we should aim to win it. Why not? I don`t think that is out of the question," the Spaniard said in an interview with the competition`s official magazine.
"We need to improve upon what we`ve achieved already and keep progressing as a team."
The probability is, however, that City will be competing for the Europa League instead as the teams who finish third in the groups go through to the last 32 of the continent`s second-tier club competition.
Mancini thinks they may just have to live with the consequences of the mistakes they made in earlier games, such as in the opener when they drew 1-1 with Napoli at home after squandering a host of chances.
"We should try to beat Bayern Munich and we should hope that Villarreal can do a good game against Naples," the Italian told a news conference.
"But also if we don`t go through in the Champions League, our life continues -- we play in the Europa League and we will try to win the Europa League; it won`t change anything.”
"We did everything, we did some mistakes probably in this group but this can happen."
City`s domestic form has been at odds with their European results as the debutants have let nerves get the better of them on the big stage but they will seek to treat Bayern with the ruthlessness of Saturday`s 5-1 win over Norwich City.
They will be without left back Aleksandar Kolarov, who is out for two to three weeks with a groin problem, so Gael Clichy could come in for the game against a German side who are flying high in Europe and back home.
Bayern regained top spot in the Bundesliga with a 4-1 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday after two defeats and will visit the Etihad stadium with no pressure on them, having already secured their passage to the next round.
Despite that convincing scoreline at the weekend, it took them more than an hour to find their rhythm and they needed the pace of substitute Arjen Robben, who is slowly easing back after a groin operation.
The Dutch winger converted two spot kicks and Franck Ribery, also in sparkling form, added two more goals.
Robben, who looked relieved after a highly successful 30-minute spell on the pitch, is likely to start against City, according to coach Jupp Heynckes, as he seeks to gain match practice before the end of the year.
"Let us hope that Arjen`s suffering is finally over and he can start playing for us from the start now," Heynckes told reporters.
Bayern will be without injured midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose absence has affected the Bavarians` game in the past weeks, with Brazilian Luiz Gustavo hoping to get a chance in the holding midfield position.
Manchester City: 25-Joe Hart; 5-Pablo Zabaleta, 4-Vincent Kompany, 6-Joleon Lescott, 22-Gael Clichy; 21-David Silva, 34-Nigel de Jong, 42-Yaya Toure, 7-James Milner; 10-Edin Dzeko, 16-Sergio Aguero
Bayern Munich: 1-Manuel Neuer; 13-Rafinha, 17-Jerome Boateng, 5-Daniel van Buyten, 21-Philipp Lahm; 10-Arjen Robben, 30-Luiz Gustavo, 39-Toni Kroos, 25-Thomas Mueller, 7-Franck Ribery; 33-Mario Gomez
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)