Date: 17th September 2013 at 11:02am
Written by:

A win is a must for Manuel Pellegrini at the unlikely football outpost of Plzen tonight. Whilst the fans are getting stuck into the local hooch, they need to see the team like it isn’t.

And for this reason City must go with all guns blazing. It won’t be good enough to field a cautious line-up and then expect Kun Aguero and Jesus Navas to steal a late win. It didn’t work at Stoke and despite the fact that Viktoria don’t roll off the Champions League tongue like Real Madrid, they have to be respected.

Last season at this stage I went to watch Lille OSC play against Bate Borisov. They were expected to win easily in their magnificent new stadium, but found themselves 3-0 down within about 20 minutes and never recovered.

No doubt City’s midfield will house Yaya TourĂ© and Fernandinho. This must be a positive Yaya. The one who almost follows the Muhammad Ali mould of floating around the pitch, stinging where it hurts. Silva isn’t fit. We need his creativity because all too easily Samir Nasri finds himself at square one, slowing down the tempo and losing opportunities in attack. Maybe Stevan Jovetic would be a better solution than Nasri. He looks as though he can open up a defence and work the ball into the pathways of Aguero and Alvaro Negredo.

The most critical area of course will be at the back where City can certainly do without the one-geared Javi Garcia whose clumsy challenges put them under pressure almost constantly. It will be interesting to see which concoction Pellegrini places ahead of Joe Hart tonight. I’m expecting it to be Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott, unless somehow Vincent Kompany can drag himself off the treatment table with Micah Richards back in Manchester. And boy do we need Vincent for Sunday! Gael Clichy is also injured so Aleks Kolarov will feature on the left.

It’s Aguero and Negredo for me up front. You would never bet against the effort and determination you get from Sergio and Negredo has shown me enough to suggest he is preferable to Edin Dzeko, although maybe Edin could profit if Navas is patrolling the outside right channel.

City have only shown a positive outlook from the off against Newcastle in a season where bus parking will once again become the norm and where towering insurgencies in the direction of makeshift centre backs will be seen to produce the goods. Midfielders need to be aware of this and cut off the opposition supply lines before setting up their own.

We’re all ready to go, read all about it in “The Ped Report” which tonight should be going to print straight after the match.

all times East Manchester BST

TONIGHT 20h45 Viktoria Plzen, Doosan Arena, CLGS1
Su 22 Sep 16h00 The rags, The Etihad PL
Tu 24 Sep 19h45 Wigan Athletic, The Etihad LC3
Sa 28 Sep 15h00 Aston Villa, Villa Park PL
We 2 Oct Bayern Munich, The Etihad, CLGS2
Sa 05 Oct 12h45 Everton, The Etihad PL
Sa 19 Oct 17h30 West Ham, Upton Park PL
We 23 Oct 17h00 CSKA Moscow, Arena Khimki CLGS3
Su 27 Oct 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge PL
Sa 02 Nov 15h00 GMT Norwich City, The Etihad PL
Tu 05 Nov 17h00 GMT CSKA Moscow, The Etihad CLGS4
Su 10 Nov 1405 GMT Sunderland, Stadium of Light PL
Su 24 Nov 13h30 GMT Spurs, The Etihad PL
We 27 Nov 19h45 GMT Viktoria Plzen, The Etihad CLGS5
Tu 01 Dec 16h10 GMT Swansea City, The Etihad PL
We 4 Dec 20h00 GMT West Brom, The Hawthorns PL

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