Thursday 20 October 2016

Manchester City can win the Champions League - Manuel Pellegrini

Simon Peach

Published 13/04/2016 | 07:59

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero is congratulated by manager Manuel Pellegrini as he is substituted last night
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero is congratulated by manager Manuel Pellegrini as he is substituted last night

Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City can end a historic season with the Champions League crown after impressively dispatching of Paris St Germain.

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The Etihad Stadium witnessed one of City's greatest European nights on Tuesday as they followed up an impressive 2-2 first-leg draw in France with a deserved 1-0 victory.

Kevin De Bruyne's fantastic strike as the clock wound down rubber-stamped progress from this tough-looking quarter-final, taking City through to the final four of European club football's top competition for the first time.

Pellegrini's former club Real Madrid are potential opponents in the semi-finals, where they will be joined by either Atletico Madrid or Barcelona and the victor of the tie between Benfica and Bayern Munich.

Such opposition does not overly concern the City boss, though, if they can replicate their second-leg display against PSG.

"Of course," Pellegrini said when asked if he was convinced City could be crowned Europe's best.

"Of course because I think it is one of the targets of this club, to try and improve every year (in this competition). I know that we receive a lot of criticism for different reasons, but I think that we are improving every year.

"I am sure it is not easy because you have very strong teams in Europe, but I am sure the target of this club is to win the Champions League.

"But not only winning the Champions League (will mean) that the project at this club is finished. I think they want to continue in the long-term, trying to improve in every sense in every department.

"One of the targets is to win, of course, some day the Champions League. Of course, this season, next season.

"If you are in the semi-final, you know you have to play against a very big team of Europe, but playing in the way we did tonight I think that we played better than Paris St Germain.

"That is a very strong team with very good players.

"We have a lot of trust that we can play against anyone in the way we played tonight."

Pellegrini was proud of his team after progressing 3-2 on aggregate against PSG, praising often derided centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala for their sturdy performance together.

The Chilean also had kind words for match-winner De Bruyne and preferred to focus on his players instead of what it meant to him as his time at the Etihad Stadium comes to an end.

Pep Guardiola will replace Pellegrini in the summer and the semi-final draw could throw-up a mouth-watering clash between City and the side his successor is currently managing, Bayern Munich.

"For me, exactly the same," he said after shrugging when asked what such a tie would mean.

"It doesn't matter - it will always be a difficult team.

"Bayern Munich, if they win tomorrow, or Barcelona , Real Madrid - for me it is exactly the same.

"Interesting for whom? Interesting for whom? The media."

Laurent Blanc cut a frustrated figure after PSG failed to progress from the quarter-finals for the fourth successive season.

The former Manchester United defender brushed off questions about the surprise decision to start with a 3-5-2 formation, but conceded his side "fell short across the board" in the last-eight tie.

"We have to think about the two matches when we talk about failure to qualify," Blanc said.

"This evening and last week in Paris, we weren't clinical enough, efficient enough.

"We scored two goals in Paris and should have scored more, but we didn't.

"That really has an impact on the return game because City had an advantage in the return game.

"We have lost a couple of players to suspension as well - we are not going to hide behind that but it is a fact.

"I think we were not efficient in either of the games and paid the price by failing to qualify.

"Well done to them. They were a good team, not particularly spectacular team, but very, very clinical, efficient team. They get the job done."

Press Association

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