So Champions League Group D, aka The group of Death, has turned out to be a bit of a mare for City. With no chance of qualification Mancini’s men will clearly be glad to see the back of it tonight too as they head off to Germany to face group leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Even if it was a game that City needed to win, it would still be a very tough call. Dortmund have been hugely impressive in the CL this year including drawing 1-1 with the Blues at the Etihad Stadium in October.
Bizarrely though City could still continue their European adventure this year as they have an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa League. With Dortmund and Real Madrid having already qualified from the group, City need to beat the German champions and hope third-placed Ajax fail to win at the home of the Spanish title-holders.
Roberto Mancini is certainly playing lip service to the possibility of winning. He said: “We will try, but we need to win in Dortmund and it will not be easy because Dortmund are in a good condition.”There is the Premier League, and the Europa League if we can go in it, and also the FA Cup. The season is long and it is important.”
There is also the chance of a good win sparking off some self-belief in the team, something that seems to be sorely missing this season in spite of the Blue’s impressive home record.
And true to his word Mancini has sent a decent squad over to Germany, unlike Arsene Wenger whose Arsenal squad who play Olympiakos in a fairly meaningless game tonight, features a group of players several of whom are not even regular in the Gunners’ reserve team.
If Mancini has any sense though he will try and play for a face-saving draw or 1-0 defeat. City need the Europa League like a hole in the head. The Premiership is quite possibly still their’s to lose. Their only real rival at the moment are the quieter neighbours and their form has been inconsistent too. Sure the Europa League is still a trophy and it would continue to give City that European experience they so sorely lack. But at the moment it would be a distraction that Mancini really doesn’t need.