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Kompany: Now is City's time for Champions League success

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'Eventually the Champions League will happen for us,' says Vincent Kompany ahead of their opening group game against Bayern Munich. Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

'Eventually the Champions League will happen for us,' says Vincent Kompany ahead of their opening group game against Bayern Munich. Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

'Eventually the Champions League will happen for us,' says Vincent Kompany ahead of their opening group game against Bayern Munich. Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

It has taken just six years for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan's lavish investment to turn Manchester City into European heavyweights but, as the Premier League champions prepare for Champions League action in Bavaria, impatience for football's ultimate status symbol is growing.

Bayern Munich proudly display images of their five European Cup triumphs in every corner of the Allianz Arena, but while Sheikh Mansour has seen two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and League Cup delivered to the Etihad Stadium, City's players have been left in no doubt that the clock is ticking on the owner's determination to win the big one.

"The club is asking us to win now, so that's one thing I can confirm," Vincent Kompany, the City captain, said. "We have come so far in the last four years and we have been successful, but you always want to take it a step further.

"Let's take it in context. We are not favourites by any means for this competition, but we would like to compete and challenge. No team can expect a guarantee of going to the final. Only Real Madrid won last year and all the rest lost like we did. The margins are very small."

City go into the Champions League hampered by the penalties imposed by UEFA following the club's failure to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations. While a £49million fine has hurt the club off the pitch, a reduced squad of 21 players may yet shackle Manuel Pellegrini in his attempts to negotiate a path to the knock-out stages from a group which includes Roma, Serie A's runners-up, and Russian champions CSKA Moscow.

Undaunted

Despite the obstacles in City's way, Kompany is undaunted by the challenge, insisting that Champions League success appears closer on the horizon than initial attempts to win the Premier League. "Before we won the league, it was more difficult to believe we could do it than with the Champions League," he said.

"My experience of the Champions League is that it's not more difficult to go to the end, but everything has to be perfect. The Premier League is just a ferocious battle to the end. Eventually it (Champions League) will happen our way. But I always say the same - there is always one winner.

"You start a season at Manchester City nowadays and it's not acceptable not to put all the trophies on your ambitions list. It's a case of me and all the players looking at all the trophies and think we have to go until the very end of the season.

"The beauty of every season is you can start again and there is always a sign of us growing stronger. That's all you can ask for in football."

Pep Guardiola, the Bayern coach, who guided Barcelona to two Champions League titles, insisted that City must now be viewed as genuine candidates to win the competition.

"Manchester City win with Kompany, Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko and all their fantastic players," Guardiola said. "I don't believe that they need to learn how they can win the Champions League. Last season they were able to win the Champions League and this year they can win the Champions League, just like eight or nine teams, but we are also among those teams."

With Pablo Zabaleta suspended and injuries that have ruled out Fernando and Stevan Jovetic, City face Bayern below full-strength. But having won 3-2 in the Allianz last December, Kompany admitted that the confidence generated by that victory could inspire the team to a perfect start tonight.

"Every single time you come here is an opportunity to prove yourself. We now take it as a challenge against one of the top three clubs in the world. It is one of hardest places to come to, but it's time to start making these games close and making up the gap between ourselves and the other top clubs.

"Last year was an important game to win as it gave us that extra belief. You have to remember that, at the time, we were not really performing well away from home, but we went from struggling away from home to the best club away from the Etihad all season.

"This time, we hope to play in a positive way and get the points but it's going to be difficult." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Bayern Munich v Man City, live, RTE2, Sky Sports 5, 7.45pm

Irish Independent