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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Football

City in Real need of victory
AFP
Paris, November 20, 2012
First Published: 23:21 IST(20/11/2012)
Last Updated: 01:34 IST(21/11/2012)

Manchester City's first tilt at Champions League glory ended in a heartbreaking group stage exit a year ago having been drawn in a tough group - though the club then went on to lift the Premier League crown.

Many observers will feel lightning is likely to strike twice as the signs are this season could prove a virtual re-run of last.

City pipped neighbours United to the Premier League post in May and now lead their local rivals by a point after a weekend steamrollering of Aston Villa.

Sadly for Roberto Mancini's men, Wednesday's opponents Real Madrid are not Villa.

Jose Mourinho's side come to Manchester knowing they cannot risk leaving empty-handed as the nine-time champions seek to close the Group D door firmly shut on a City side who have taken just two points from their opening four fixtures.

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It could have been so different for Mancini's side - they were on the brink of victory in the Bernabeu before Karim Benzema and Ronaldo overturned a 2-1 deficit in the last five minutes.

Instead of pulling off a win which would have left them a point clear of the Spaniards, City instead trail Mourinho's side by five points and group leaders Dortmund by six to stare another premature elimination in the face.

Mancini concedes that the odds are stacked against City but after wiping the floor with Villa he knows the club are in the global spotlight on Wednesday and should make the most of the occasion.

"I think we have few chances to go through but it is important to do a good job," said the Italian.

Striker Sergio Aguero, on a hot streak with four goals in three games, says the team have to be single-minded as their mission is crystal clear.

"The truth is we have to win so we are going to go out and win however we can," said the Argentine forward.

Losing in Spain was bad enough but failing to beat Dortmund and then dropping four points over two games against Ajax has all but pushed City through the trapdoor leading to the Europa League.

If the Dutch can beat the Germans - and should Real lose - then Ajax would draw level on points with Mourinho's 'meringues'.

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