Now they have qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City can win the thing.
Since they became regulars at the top table of European football, the Blues had failed to progress through the group stages until now. During the past two seasons, Roberto Mancini led them to a third place finish and entry into the UEFA Europa League, whilst last season they fared even worse when they ended bottom of their table.
This time, though, Pellegrini has guided them through to the last 16 with two games to spare. This is largely down to the back-to-back wins against CSKA Moscow, the latter of which came on Wednesday night when the visitors were handed a 5-2 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium. And now, the former Malaga coach believes there is no reason why City can’t go even further when the knockout ties begin next year.
“I think we can beat any side now,” Pellegrini said. “I think the most important teams in Italy, Spain and France are competitive, so we will see where we go now. We have a strong team and the minimum target was to qualify for the next round, but it is not our only target. I can assure you that, whoever we draw, they will not be very happy to play against us.”
City could still finish the qualifying campaign as Group D winners, but that would require them to beat Bayern Munich by a more impressive margin than the 3-1 score the Germans recorded in Manchester last month. The reigning European champions look in formidable form both domestically and in their defence of the crown they won at Wembley last May, so a win at the Allianz Arena would really announce the arrival of the Blues.