Fernandinho believes Manchester City would claim their Uefa Champions League group and have a footing in the round of 16 if they can take points off Wednesday’s opponent Bayern Munich both away and at home.
The Premier League champions have another tricky draw to contend with this season, with upcoming matches against Serie A side Roma and Russian champions CSKA Moscow after Bayern.
Last season, Manuel Pellegrini’s men came back from two goals down to end the Bundesliga champions’ record ten-game run of Champions League wins with a 3-2 outcome at the Allianz Arena. Bayern’s 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium earlier, saw them edge the Mancunians to the top of the group standings despite finishing level on points.
Pep Guardiola’s side went on to eliminate Arsenal and City’s neighbour Manchester United in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively, before losing to reigning champions Real Madrid 7-0 on aggregate. City on their own part failed to reach the last 8, as they were thrashed 4-1 on aggregate by Spanish giants Barcelona in the next round.
“This is a difficult group for us, but Bayern are the team we have to beat,” the Brazil midfielder told the club’s website.
“(Finishing top of the group) is something we haven’t done before and it is really important because it means you don’t face another group winner in the next phase.
“Every team you face in the Champions League is difficult because they all give 100% to try and beat you no matter who you are playing, but we have learned lessons from our previous efforts and we want to finish top this time.’
City failed to advance into the knockout stage of Europe’s elite competition in the 2011/12 season despite claiming 10 points in the group stage.
That season was just the beginning of a now-familiar group tussle between the four-time English champions and the five-time European champions, the current campaign marking their third clash in four years.
Following a sluggish start to their Premier League title defence with two wins a loss and Sunday’s draw at Arsenal leaving them fifth with just seven points; City require a positive result in Munich to restore confidence among fans.
“It should be a great game for us to play in and for the fans to watch and if we are at our best, we know we can beat anyone. Our aim is to go to Munich and win- that would be the perfect start for us,” he said.
The tourists will be without summer signing Fernando while striker Stevan Jovetic faces late fitness test.
He admits the loss of Fernando to injury ahead of the heavyweight clash is a blow to his side, while also acknowledging that his countryman has had an impressive start to life as a ‘Ciitizen’.
“He has settled in really well. He is a big loss because he has quickly become an important player for us and it is sad he won’t play against Bayern but we have great players who can slot in when somebody is injured,” said the 29-year-old.
Bayern are missing several top stars like defenders Holger Badstuber amongst others. They will be buoyed by France playmaker Franck Ribery who marked his return from a knee injury with the second goal in the 2-0 win over VFB Stuttgart that put the defending champions joint top of the German League.