Roberto Mancini said yesterday that Manchester City must not panic in tonight's Europa League last-16 match with Dynamo Kiev. City lost 2-0 in Ukraine last week, leaving them in a vulnerable position this evening. Rather than desperately chasing the deficit, Mancini would rather City played their natural game and avoided the defensive errors that caused their defeat at the Lobanovsky Stadium.
Should City concede tonight they will be left needing four goals to proceed to the quarter-finals. Mancini was clear yesterday that this demanded more defensive rigour than they displayed in Kiev, where they conceded two preventable goals. But the team were under instructions not to chase an early goal, and were given no deadlines for scoring first.
"I think it is not a good result," Mancini said yesterday. "I was disappointed in Kiev because it's unusual that we concede a goal like that. I think that we should play our game, we don't try to concede a goal, this is very important. It's not important that we score after five minutes or after half an hour. It's important that we play as a team, that we play very strong, that we don't concede anything to Dynamo Kiev, because Dynamo Kiev is a squad that plays counter-attacking."
Kiev's counter-attacks were often orchestrated by Andrei Shevchenko, who rejoined Dynamo in 2009, 10 years after he left them to play for Milan. The 34-year-old scored the first goal last Thursday and troubled City throughout with his movement.
"Shevchenko seemed to be leading by example," said Vincent Kompany yesterday. "He was not just captain because of what he achieved in the past, he was one of the best players in their team." Kompany added that City might have underestimated Kiev last week. "I just think, we've been caught by surprise, we've not really dealt well with the conditions there. None of us had expected Dynamo Kiev to be such a good team, but we know what we're up against. So there will be no surprises [this time]."
Regarding the prospects for tonight, Kompany was just as bullish as his manager. "Obviously it's not a good result," said the Belgian defender, "but having said that, it's a home game now and we expect to be able to do the same as they have done to us, and if not, more. We're confident, we know the fans are going to give us a lot of support, and we know that this is going to be a special game."
Mancini will welcome James Milner back into the squad this evening. The England midfielder has played just one game from the last eight as he has struggled with a hamstring injury. "James is not 100 per cent," explained Mancini, "but he has worked with us for the past week and probably he can go on the bench." Milner's England team-mate Adam Johnson has also returned to training, following an ankle injury, and while he will not play tonight he may be available to face Chelsea on Sunday.