City fly to the Czech Republic and into the unknown to face a dangerous Plzeň. The Blues third consecutive Champions League journey is about to begin…
‘I know that in the last two years, City had tough draws and difficult games in the group stages. This year is also difficult. But last season when the Champions League draw was made, AC Milan and Zenit St Petersburg were very happy that they were with Malaga in the group. Everyone thought Malaga were a weak team. If you think that you are going to qualify for the last 16 because the other teams are weak, then I think it’s an important mistake…we have to play against difficult teams. I think we are going to have to play very well to go through to the next round and not because the group is easy.’
‘All our opponents belong in the European elite and I am honoured to have a chance to play against teams like these. It will be a very exciting experience as we have never faced English or German clubs before. I will be happy with every point we get – four or five I would consider a success.
“Manchester City is one of the top clubs in the world and we are aware that we will not go into the match as favourites…I am quite sure they won’t be scared of us, but we are determined to fight for every inch of ground.”
FC Viktoria Plzeň Team News:
Player to watch: Pavel Horváth
Much travelled 38 year old Captain Horváth is the man who holds Plzeň together and has helped guide the squad through recent years of unprecedented success. The attacking midfielder has played for the likes of Galatasary, Sporting and Sparta Prague. This is the bloke who was fined in 2007 playing for Sparta for making a Nazi salute. He apologised and claimed he was trying to calm down his side’s fans. Gaël Clichy has faced Horvath and team-mates Limberský and Kolář before when his Arsenal side thumped Sparta 5-0 over 2 legs in 2007.
Manchester City Team News:
OUT – Not Travelled
LATE FITNESS TEST
Player to watch: Yaya Touré
If named captain again should Vincent Kompany be held back for the Manchester derby, then Touré’s wealth of Champions League knowledge needs to be fed into and the big man must lead from the front. Despite a couple of cracking free kick goals, Toure has looked laboured in recent league games and that lack of spark has been reflected through the whole team. He has to impose himself in Plzeň for City to succeed.
Match Facts & Stats
THE NUMBERS GAME:
Plzeň were knocked out of the Europa League Round of 16 1-2 on aggregate by Fenerbache earlier this year. In the Round of 32 they thumped Napoli 5-0 across 2 legs.
City are out to improve a poor away record in the Champions League. The Blues took no points away in the last campaign while in 2011/12 recorded 1 victory at Villarreal with 2 defeats. The Citizens last 2 group stage opening nights resulted in a draw and a defeat.
Plzeň’s senior squad rota is 33 men strong, only 4 of which who are of foreign nationality.
Chelsea stopper Peter Čech is Plzeň born and spent 10 formative years at the club.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Villarreal won in the Czech Republic in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup group stage when they beat FK Mladá Boleslav 2-1.
Plzeň smashed 20 goals in 6 Champions League qualifiers this summer and to date have scored 21 goals in 8 Czech Gambrinus Liga games.
Plzeň are unbeaten in all competitions with 12 wins and 2 draws.
49 year old coach Pavel Vrba has been named Czech coach of the year for the last 3 seasons.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FORM GUIDE LAST 6 GAMES:
CLICK HERE TO MAKE YOUR PREDICTIONS AND FOLLOW THE GAME LIVE IN THE VMC FORUM
VIKTORIA TV: Stadium Trailer
BETTING: Plzeň 9/2 Draw 3 City 8/13 Racing Post Soccerbase
TV COVERAGE: Sky Sports 2 uk / 2HD
Paolo Tagliavento of Italy:
The 40 year old card flourisher was promoted to the UEFA Elite category of referees last year following 3 successful Champions League campaigns. Reffed the rags embarrassing 3-3er at home to Basel two seasons ago and has also officiated European fixtures involving Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs. Recently controlled Scotland’s defeat to Belgium and owns a hairdressing salon. STATS: Across a combined 58 International and European club matches, he has given 15 Penalties (10 to Home sides), dished out 18 Red cards (11 to Home sides) and made 213 bookings (93 to Home sides).
Johnny On The Spot:
This is a huge game for Manchester City. There are no easy groups in The Champions League. Just ask Manuel Pellegrini. As far as this correspondent is concerned, they can all be groups of death, especially if a side fails to show and I’m not buying into the belief at the group stage draw last month that City bagged a close to guaranteed passage. Do-able yes, but not guaranteed. Invariably if you don’t turn up in the CL you risk getting murdered, especially away from home. Napoli and Atletico Madrid both tasted defeat at Plzeň last season. This is why The Blues can ill afford the below capability performances served up against Cardiff, Hull and Stoke at this level. Plzeň, who have been playing competitively since 16th July this season are no mugs. A mix of heavily experienced ages and young forwards, they are a direct attacking side led by an astute, passionate manager who is currently coveted by the Polish Football Federation to become the Poles’ national coach. Plzeň deliver goals from all areas of their team and have an even spread of input across their 41 goals so far this season…Much is going to rest in Plzeň upon the vast Champions League experience of Pellegrini who does not have time on his side. How he sets City up for the relative unknown will serve as a precursor for how the side will approach the away ties in Moscow and Munich. There is no margin for error and a repeat of City’s unimaginative recent displays could be punished. An opening night win, shattering Plzeň’s unbeaten record would be something to savour. Into the bargain, a growing surge of media pressure would be relieved ahead of a crucial Manchester derby where both City and The Stretfords have thus far failed to set the domestic game alight…I’m banking on City’s seasoned internationals, guided by The Engineer to step up at last in Europe and seal a desperately needed win. We need this season’s launch pad.
Plzeň 0 City 2
all times East Manchester BST unless stated
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 02 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 04 Dec 20h00 GMT West Brom, The Hawthorns PL