City itching to stop rot

After suffering a 4-1 defeat by Tottenham on Saturday in the Premier League, Manchester City players (left, in training) will hope that they do not stumble in the Champions League against Moenchengladbach. They lost to Juventus in their first group-s
After suffering a 4-1 defeat by Tottenham on Saturday in the Premier League, Manchester City players (above, in training) will hope that they do not stumble in the Champions League against Moenchengladbach. They lost to Juventus in their first group-stage game.PHOTO: REUTERS

Squad eager to put 3 losses in last 4 games behind them and also revive Euro challenge

MOENCHENGLADBACH (Germany) • Manchester City defenders Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi have described today's Champions League clash with Borussia Moenchengladbach as a must-win encounter.

City's opening group game defeat by Juventus has left them on the backfoot again as they seek to qualify for the knockout stages. And the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini's side to get their European campaign back on track in Germany has been made more intense by a 1-4 thrashing at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.

It was their heaviest league defeat in 41/2 years and their third loss in four matches in all competitions.

"It's a must-win game," said centre-back Otamendi. "When you look at the quality and standard of players at this club, it's almost demanded of us to be competing in Europe at the highest level."

 

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    Moenchengladbach scored 18 goals in just five home games during their Europa League campaign last season.

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    The German side have never lost to English opposition at home, winning four and drawing one.


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    In contrast, Manchester City have won just twice in eight away matches against Bundesliga teams. They lost the other six.

Ironically, City's decline in form coincided with his introduction to the side. They had conceded just one goal in 535 minutes with captain Vincent Kompany marshalling the defence. But they have since let in eight in 285 minutes - or once every 35 minutes - with summer signing Otamendi in the back four.

Kompany remains a doubt with a calf problem while goalkeeper Joe Hart sat out the Spurs defeat with a back problem and midfielder Yaya Toure was forced off with a hamstring injury and is doubtful.

Mangala, who has also missed the last two games with injury, insisted that City have the squad to reach the Champions League round of 16 for the first time in their history.

"I am convinced that we have to do better with the players we have here because we want to help the club develop," the defender told the club's website.

"In the last few years, we've stuck at the same level, and at some point, if you want to develop, you need to take a step forward and that needs to happen on the pitch."

He noted that City still have games left to qualify - "we just have to show that this game against Juventus was an off-day".

Gladbach are also hunting for their first points in Europe after the Germans lost 0-3 at Sevilla last time out in Group D.

They started the season with five straight Bundesliga defeats which saw manager Lucien Favre resign.

Caretaker manager Andre Schubert has since come in and made an immediate impact.

Gladbach romped to a 4-2 win against Augsburg last Wednesday, before claiming a 3-1 victory at Stuttgart on Sunday.

Gladbach have few injury worries and want to add to City's poor record away to Bundesliga sides after just two wins in Germany against six defeats.

This will be Gladbach's first home game at this level for 37 years, having reached the final of the old European Cup in 1977.

This is the first time that Champions League football has been played at Borussia Park.

After pulling Gladbach up from the bottom of the Bundesliga to 14th with two victories, the club's bosses are delighted with Schubert.

And claiming City's scalp would enhance his chances of getting the job permanently.

Having been hastily promoted from Gladbach's Under-23 team, Schubert was happy to reveal he already had experience of playing a City side - albeit their youth team.

"We're looking forward to the match, it will be a great challenge," said Schubert, whose U-23 side drew 1-1 against City in the Premier League International Cup.

"We want to try and get something on Wednesday and I am unbeaten against Manchester City."

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MOENCHENGLADBACH v MAN CITY

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'CITY ITCHING TO STOP ROT'. Print Edition | Subscribe