Thursday, June 13, 2024

City hope black cloud has Silva lining


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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.

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.

United search for right chemistry in Basel

Basel is a centre of the pharmaceutical industry and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson must find the right formula against the Swiss champions to avoid a premature Champions League exit on Wednesday.

United, who have failed to get past the group stage only twice in 16 previous Champions League appearances, still need a point away to FC Basel to complete what is usually the formality of qualifying for the knockout stages.

A win for the hosts would send them through along with Benfica who have already made sure of taking one of the two places out of Group C.

Although unbeaten with nine points, one more than third-place Basel, Ferguson’s side have only managed two wins in five matches, both of them against rank outsiders Otelul Galati of Romania.

They drew home and away against Benfica and were astonishingly held 3-3 at home by Basel earlier in the group. (Agencies)


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