History not on City's side as Mancini aims to switch focus to Europa League
Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City:Manchester City are facing a genuine dilemma. Win, and nine Europa League matches that could derail their Premier League prospects; lose and their Uefa co-efficient plummets like a stone, increasing the chances of another tough Champions League group next year. But ahead of tonight’s game against Borussia Dortmund, Roberto Mancini has made up his mind: City are better off in Europe than out.
“It will be difficult because in the Europa League you play Thursdays so you don’t have a lot of rest before Premier League matches,” he said. “But we must try to play in the Europa League. We need to stay in Europe.”
If City fail to get a point against Dortmund they will finish with the lowest tally of any English team in the group stages of the Champions League.
Mancini knows City’s hopes of reaching the Europa League are out of their hands. They need to beat Dortmund and also hope that Real Madrid do not lose at home to Ajax – a far from forlorn hope given that the Spanish champions have won five matches against Ajax, outscoring them 16 goals to one, in the past two seasons.
However, history is not on City’s side. The last time Dortmund lost to an English team at home in Europe was 6-1 in the 1964-65 Fairs Cup to a Manchester United side inspired by a Bobby Charlton hat-trick and goals from Denis Law and George Best.
But while history is against them, circumstances might end up working in City’s favour. Dortmund have already qualified in first place in Group D; they can afford to rest some players and experiment with others.
Neven Subotic, who injured his pelvis during the 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich, is out. As is Dortmund’s captain Sebastian Kehl and the defender Sven Bender. And there are also doubts over Lukasz Piszczek and Mario Gotze.
Even so, Dortmund’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, is in confident mood, praising his players and confidently dismissing reports linking Manchester United with his Polish striker Robert Lewandowksi.