Three Key Battles: Viktoria Plzen vs Manchester City
Manchester City’s third successive Champions League campaign begins tonight with a trip to the Czech Republic to face Viktoria Plzen at the Doosan Arena.
This will be City’s first campaign under Manuel Pellegrini, who came very close to taking La Liga outfit Malaga to the semi-finals of this competition last year, only to miss out thanks to a very dubious last minute goal from Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals.
Pellegrini has been tasked to improve upon City’s dismal record in this competition, where in each of the last two seasons they’ve gone out in the group stages.
Two years ago they narrowly missed out on second spot, but last season was a disaster. Roberto Mancini’s side finished bottom of the group with no wins to their name.
They were both tough groups, but the higher ups at the club, plus pundits and punters alike, expected much better from an experienced, top quality squad. The pressure is no doubt on the Chilean boss to deliver, and it all begins this evening away to the Czech Champions.
This is only Plzen’s second season in the competition; their debut campaign was two years ago, when they were drawn in a group with Barcelona, AC Milan and BATE Borisov.
They finished third that year, but manager Pavel Vbra is realistic about his team’s chances in this group, telling the press that he would be satisfied to finish the campaign with four or five points.
The Czech side go into this match as huge underdogs, with their Premier League opponents expected to come away with a comfortable victory. Click on the links below to find out which key battles could determine where this match is won or lost.
The game kicks off at 7:45, and will be shown live on Sky Sports 2 HD