Pellegrini eyeing Champions League prize for Man City?
Matt Haynes | November 24, 2015
Manuel Pellegrini left out centre back Nicolas Otamendi in the 4-1 defeat to Liverpool, posing the matter whether the Chilean had more of an eye on the match against Juventus in the Champions League, knowing a win would guarantee them a first place finish in Group D.
The last two seasons has seen Manchester City progress to the last 16 in second place of their group, which has led to inevitable exits against Barcelona.
It is understandable why Pellegrini would want to guarantee see progress in the Champions League. A run to the latter stages could prove the difference between him still being at the club next term.
City are 11/1 with Coral to win the Champions League this season and they certainly have the squad to do it, when all are fit and on form.
A slight blip in the Premier League is recoverable. An error of judgement in Europe’s elite competition can cost dearly. While they were second best in every department against the Reds, this match against Juventus could make or break their season and the players’ minds might have been occupied by the thought of this fixture.
Keeping key players fit crucial
The club have done well to stay in the title race while Sergio Aguero has been out injured and he showed his class and his importance to City against Jurgen Klopp’s side, scoring the hosts’ only goal.
At the beginning of the season they looked unbeatable, sweeping other teams aside in ruthless fashion. Aguero’s contribution here was crucial, though a supporting cast of David Silva and Raheem Sterling were just as important.
There is no coincidence that injuries to both Aguero and Silva at the same time was met with a drop in form, however the loss of captain Vincent Kompany was just as damaging. The Belgian’s start to the campaign suggested that he was back to his best, while Yaya Toure also looked rejuvenated with the rest of his teammates at their best.
Signing Kevin De Bruyne has proved to be a masterstroke and he, along with Wilfried Bony have helped to keep City in the title race as well as taking them to the top of their Champions League group.
Winter window opportunity to strengthen chances?
If Pellegrini can strengthen with quality in January, it will give him a chance to rotate his squad to prevent injuries, however he will know that he won’t be able to register a player for the Champions League unless they haven’t played in Europe this season.
What this opportunity means though, is that any new signings can be used predominantly for their quest to win the Premier League, while allowing him to protect the likes of Aguero and Silva, should they advance to the latter stages of the Champions League.
However, there are no easy games beyond the group stage and there are a number of teams who can win the Champions League, including usual suspects Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Fans can expect City to play their strongest team against Juventus and if they do secure three points, his gamble against Liverpool will have paid off.
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