On Tuesday, 10th September, Man City was held to a draw in their home ground by Roma in the group stage fixtures for this season’s champion’s league. After the match which ended 1-1, there were headlines screaming about the failure of City to qualify from the group despite the fact that there are four matches left to play. Drawing the match with Roma was never an option for City, however as always in football, the unpredictable happens and that it did. Already, Bayern top the group with two wins from their matches against City and CSKA Moscow.
Roma take second place with a win against CSKA Moscow, and a draw against City, while City is in third place with a point and a loss. CSKA Moscow are bottom of the group with zero points and two loss. City faces CSKA Moscow next and while some of the media are of the opinion that all hope is lost for City, City fans should be comforted with the knowledge that the team can still qualify from the group.
Beating CSKA Moscow in both legs of their fixture will give City 6 points and this should be an easy task. This being that City are used to CSKA Moscow after playing them in the group stages last season and beating them in the home and away tie. Bayern will certainly help City’s cause by beating Roma . Might seem a forgone deal, but the Roma team are reinvigorated and have gone unbeaten so far this season. Therefore, Bayern despite their topping the group might still slip, therefore they “must” beat Roma in both legs of their encounter. Roma’s anticipated defeat will certainly be a huge boost to City and such mentality will be needed when Bayern comes visiting.
By then, City would be second in the group with 7 points in contrast to Roma’s 4 points, the implication being that Roma must lose against Bayern and City must beat CSKA Moscow. The odds are that, Roma will hold Bayern to a draw, but I don’t see such happening as Bayern is a very strong team, and there are individuals within the team whose sole performance will ensure the team beats whatever opponent they face. The next tie against Bayern is a must win for City, and the trip to Italy must end in a win for City. Hence, the remaining four matches are a do or die affair for City, as a win in these matches and a faltering by Roma, ensures that City qualify and advances into the next round while Roma drop into the Europa.
As it stands, City hold their own destiny in their hands, and Pellegrini must explore all avenues availed to him to ensure that he meets the target set by the owners and also cure City of their stage fright on the continental stage. Although it might seem too earlier to suggest that Pellegrini’s job is at stake, we must also consider the fact that above all else, City seek to conquer the Continent having already conquered the domestic league, and failure by the manager to make the much needed impact in the Champions league will have dire consequences.