Manuel Pellegrini looking to Yaya Touré to make noise

An empty CSKA stadium awaits City in Moscow for Champions League Group E tie

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has defended Yaya Touré: ‘Every game he is playing better, he had a very complicated summer, but he is arriving towards his best performances.’Photograph: PA Wire

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has defended Yaya Touré: ‘Every game he is playing better, he had a very complicated summer, but he is arriving towards his best performances.’Photograph: PA Wire

 

CSKA Moscow v Manchester City Arena Khimki, 5pm, Sky Sports 5 and Setanta Ireland

Manuel Pellegrini believes Yaya Touré may be on the brink of his best form as Manchester City prepare to take on CSKA Moscow in this evening’s crucial Champions League encounter.

City have only a point from their opening two Group E matches so have to defeat Leonid Slutsky’s team or they will return home facing elimination from the competition. Touré disappointed in City’s 1-0 loss at Bayern Munich and the 1-1 draw with Roma at the Etihad Stadium.

The game is being played at an empty Khimki Arena due to Uefa’s stadium ban for repeated racist behaviour by CSKA’s supporters – something Touré had to endure in last season’s corresponding fixture – and Pellegrini said: “I don’t agree exactly with the media that Yaya has had a bad season. If you compare to last year, when he had a brilliant performance, maybe he just needs time to get back to that level.

Important player

Touré, Manchester City’s key central midfielder, has been criticised for his defensive displays. Yet his manager does not believe he should move permanently to operate as a second striker or at number 10.

“It can be an option to play him further forward, he can play both positions,” Pellegrini said.

“He plays forward with his national squad, but he is an important midfielder for us and that is where he will continue to play. This team does not just depend on one player. The whole team plays well, not just with Yaya.

“And when we improve, it’s because the whole team has improved. So I repeat, he can play both positions, but he will continue in the position where, last season, he was the best player in the Premier League.”

Fourth campaign

Pablo ZabaletaAhmed Musa

“We have been improving in the last few years, but in this competition you are up against the best teams in Europe,” Zabaleta said.

“We are improving year by year, with a great group of players, but to win this competition is so difficult. It is one that you would love to win, but you have to work really hard to do it and we have to learn from the mistakes we have made in the last years to make progress.”

Main player

“I think Musa is one of the main players for them,” the right-back said. “We played against him last season and know him well. We have great defenders, great players, and a great back four.

“We like to play as an attacking team, but sometimes leave space at the back. It would be great to leave players at the back, but we like to push high and that leaves space in behind. It is the way we like to play, we are not going to change this.” Guardian Service

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