Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has suggested that Champions League progress as group winners ahead of Bayern Munich is not imperative and the pressure is off against the European champions next month, now both sides have opened their campaigns with 3-0 wins.
After two years in which City have been perpetually playing catch-up in Europe, Kompany said that the Bayern match at the Etihad on 2 October is not a "game changer" following the emphatic 3-0 win in Plzen, a scoreline the Germans matched at home to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday. "We want to be in the top two of the group," said the 27-year-old. "We know if we do our jobs correctly and beat CSKA Moscow and Plzen at home, that should see us through.
"I think the pressure is off us a bit. There's no reason for us to have too much respect for the opposition [Bayern]. It's one of those games which, if you win, sets you up really nice in the group. And if you don't, then you know you have to win the rest of the games."
The Belgian acknowledged that victory over Pep Guardiola's side was desirable. "We're in it to win it," he said. But Kompany now faces the prospect at the Etihad on Sunday of a resurgent Wayne Rooney – the player who left him flailing as he executed his legendary bicycle-kick goal in February 2011. It was the strike Rooney later described as delivering him a "mad rush of power"– after which "who I am and what I've done comes back to me in a rush, a hit, like a boxer coming round after a sniff of smelling salts..."
To the notion that he must be hoping Rooney's resurgence is halted in its tracks on Sunday, Kompany declared: "No. It's brilliant. You want to play against top players at their best. That's personally how I feel about it. I always want to play against players when they are at their best. I'm really happy for Wayne that he's on top form. This is the great thing about the Premier League, you play against top strikers all the time. But there are many players to watch out for in both teams."
The United manager, David Moyes, has discovered a decisive way of dealing with City – his Everton side won six and drew one of their last eight Premier League games against them – though Kompany said that no statistic is likely to prove decisive when the two Manchester sides, who are separated only by City's marginally better goal difference, meet again.
It is a match for which the City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, hopes to have midfielder David Silva restored. "It's a different [United] team, it's a different season and I would say there has never been anything too predictable in the derby," Kompany said. "Nobody predicted we would win 6-1 at Old Trafford, that they would beat us at the Etihad and that we would win at Old Trafford. I guess that's what the fans want too. It is unpredictable."