Plzen v Manchester City: Pablo Zabaleta eyes 'great chance' to make amends for Champions League woe
City have failed to escape the group stage for the last two seasons
Tuesday 17 September 2013
Pablo Zabaleta believes Manchester City have a “great chance” to make amends for their past Champions League frustrations this season.
City's first two ventures into Europe's elite competition have ended prematurely at the group stage.
Last season's campaign was particularly underwhelming as they failed to win a game, albeit from a tough group including Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.
This year the draw appears kinder with task of taking on European champions Bayern Munich offset by games against the lesser-fancied Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow in Group D.
The minnows of Plzen, the Czech champions, are their first opponents at the modest Doosan Arena this evening.
Argentina right-back Zabaleta said: "I think it is another chance for this club, for this team, to do better in the Champions League.
"From what happened the last two years in the Champions League, I think we learned and hopefully we will do better.
"It is not an easy group - I am not saying this - but maybe if you compare this group with the last two years, it is a bit better.
"We believe in this team and I think we have got a great chance to qualify for the next round."
City have been unable to win the first match of either of their previous two campaigns.
In 2011 they were held to a 1-1 draw by Napoli at the Etihad Stadium and last year they surrendered a lead to lose at Real Madrid. Last season they also lost all three of their away games.
Zabaleta, 28, said: "It is important to win tonight, to try to get three points.
"To start winning is important because then we have got Bayern Munich at home."
City's disappointing Champions League showings were one of the reasons the club decided to part company with their 2012 Barclays Premier League-winning manager Roberto Mancini last season.
His replacement Manuel Pellegrini boasts good pedigree in the competition.
Last season, his Malaga side got within moments of securing a place in the semi-finals - a stage the Chilean previously reached with Villarreal.
Zabaleta said: "He is a manager with good experience in the Champions League.
"He did well with Villarreal, and also with Malaga. Now it is a different experience for him, with a new team. Hopefully we can do well."
City are hoping captain Vincent Kompany will be fit to return after the defender travelled with the squad to the Czech Republic.
Kompany has been out since limping out of the first game of the season against Newcastle with a groin injury.
The Belgian has been training as normal for the last three days and his potential return would give Pellegrini a lift ahead of next weekend's derby against Manchester United.
Pellegrini said: "We will see if he is 100 per cent. If he is, of course he will play.
"I think he will be 100 per cent, but if he is not he will not play."
Playmaker David Silva did not travel after missing last weekend's game at Stoke with a thigh injury.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal Champions League fixtures: Gunners to open with Dinamo Zagreb trip, plus daunting back-to-back Bayern Munich ties
Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City: £58m deal hits the rocks as Wolfsburg admits they're 'in no rush' to sell former Chelsea midfielder
Pogba to Chelsea: Blues set to smash British spending record with £70m midfielder and £34m John Stones
Manchester City face another struggle to make an impact in Champions League
Paul Pogba to Chelsea: Transfer news live - John Stones latest, Gareth Bale and Neymar to Manchester United, Edinson Cavani to Arsenal
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs