Manuel Pellegrini has paid tribute to his counterpart Pep Guardiola ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League opener.
The Chilean, celebrating his 61st birthday on Tuesday, was effusive in his praise for the work the Bayern Munich boss has undertaken since taking up his post at the Allianz Arena in summer 2013.
For that reason, Manuel is sure that his team will have to play with great character and personality if they are to get anything from the trip to Germany.
“I think that we will approach it as we do most of our matches, trying always to impose our footballing qualities, and to overcome Bayern Munich with our footballing qualities, but to also consider details regarding our opponents - not as a priority but as something important,” Pellegrini declared.
“For example when we give the ball to Bayern Munich we know it is very difficult to beat them.
“When we play like we are used to, and have ball possession, then it will be difficult for Bayern to win the ball back.
“So there are various aspects which start, for me, with the personality of the team to be able to impose their football against any opponent and on any pitch.
“Pep is a great coach, and has always managed to transfer his way of playing to his players, at any club he has coached.
“If you watch Bayern play, it is clearly the team of Pep Guardiola and this shows the quality he has, and the work that his team has been doing.
“I think that the tie, especially the match we played in Manchester, here you could see great ball possession shown by Bayern, with technically very strong players and a very bad day for us, in terms of winning the ball.”
The common consensus is that, despite being English champions for the second time in three years, City have been drawn into one of the toughest possible Champions League groups – and not for the first time.
Manuel has admitted his disappointment with the draw procedure and has conceded that he would rather not have faced Bayern Munich and CSKA for the second consecutive year.
“It [the Champions League] is, for the champions. I think that the champions of England and the champions of the German league, with both leagues being among the best leagues in Europe, they deserve to be in pot 1,” he asserted.
“This season we again have Bayern Munich, Manchester City and CSKA Moscow. I do not think it is good to repeat the group exactly as the year before.
“I don´t think it´s good that the teams who play qualification because they finished fourth in their domestic leagues are in pot 1, where the strongest teams should be.
“In our group we have three domestic champions, the English champions, the German champions, and the Russian champions. So our group seems a bit unbalanced.
“I think we need to find a modification whereby, for example, all teams who play qualification go into pot 4, and all champions of their respective leagues and have a lot of points in Europe (a high coefficient) go into pot 1.
“There is a need for some modifications to not let something like what happened to us happen again, and then on the other hand for the teams who play preliminaries to not appear with the most important ones in Europe.
“I don´t think that playing a team two or three times makes it easier, because all football matches are different.
Look at the tie against Bayern Munich, we lost at home 3-1 with Bayern playing very well, and then we went to Germany to play them and we won 3-2.
“Both teams met within a month, and there were differences between both matches. So in that respect it doesn´t really help, I think we have a very difficult group ahead.
“It will be very difficult to qualify from this group.”
Despite this, Manuel is sure that the experience of reaching the last 16 for the first time last season will only aid his team in this year’s competition.
“I think that the experience of the teams is very important and to have played last season with Manchester City, a team which has never qualified for the knock-out stages,” he added.
“The fact of having qualified for it last season, and having been in the toughest group, coming second with 15 points in the group stage.
“I think that increases the confidence of the players for this season and the future, and I hope, but you never know of course, that we will see a more mature Manchester City in the Champions League, and a Manchester City that will try to do better than the year before.”