Man City relying on others in Champions League
Updated: December 06, 2011, 07:10
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MANCHESTER, England(AP) If money alone determined the outcome of the Champions League, Manchester City would already be through to the knockout stage and wondering which team it would beat next.
Instead, the Premier League leader's expensively assembled squad is relying on a surprise result elsewhere to even have a chance of making out of the group stage in its first season in the tournament.
City has won only two of its five matches so far and must beat Group A winner Bayern Munich in the final group match on Wednesday. It also needs a Villarreal side fighting relegation in Spain to at least record its first point in this season's Champions League against Napoli.
"We need to improve upon what we've achieved already,'' City playmaker David Silva said.
City is cruising in the Premier League but manager Roberto Mancini, just as he did at Inter Milan, has so far been unable to translate that domestic form into Champions League success.
A 1-1 home draw against Napoli in September, a 2-0 loss at Bayern the same month and a 2-1 loss at Napoli last month mean that even victory over four-time European champion Bayern at Etihad Stadium might not be enough to take City through.
Whatever City does, Napoli can advance with a victory over Villarreal, which has scored only two goals and taken no points from five Champions League matches. If City and Napoli finish level on points, the Italian side will progress courtesy of its superior head-to-head record.
Although Napoli won the 1989 UEFA Cup, with Diego Maradona even leading the club to Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990, the Serie A team never reached the last 16 of the old European Cup.
While the 4,000 Napoli fans traveling to Spain would be ecstatic to see their team advance, City's wealth and squad means some players are still expecting to win the whole competition despite their perilous situation.
"We've got to do well in the Champions League and, well, we should aim to win it,'' Silva said. "Why not? I don't think that is out of the question.''
Bayern midfielders Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos are likely to miss the match in Manchester after coming down with flu. Robben has just come back after a groin operation and scored two penalties in a 4-1 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday.
"It's good that we've already qualified for the last 16 so that players like Robben and Kroos can stay home and get better,'' Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said. "Otherwise their absence would hurt us a lot.''
But Bayern is still aiming for victory, not least for the extra prize money.
"We don't want to give any presents,'' Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "It wouldn't be fair to Napoli and besides the 800,000 is also a nice Christmas bonus. We need the money, Manchester has a sheik.''
Bayern also wants to eliminate a potential rival for the title.
"If City gets knocked out, that would be good for the entire tournament,'' Bayern forward Thomas Mueller said. "It's a game in which we have to prove ourselves.''
Injury-hit Villarreal is coming off a 1-0 loss at Racing Santander that left it just two points above the relegation zone in the Spanish league. Although Villarreal is eliminated, midfielder Bruno Soriano said a win could provide a crucial boost to morale.
"We want to win and give our fans something to be happy about, because they have had a hard time this season just like all the players,'' Soriano said. "If we win, it will give us a boost heading forward.''