Football: Sevilla in Champions League, not EPL Manchester derby, on Pellegrini's mind

LONDON • Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has warned his side to forget about Sunday's Manchester derby and prepare for "the real Sevilla" in the Champions League today.

Sevilla's stuttering start to their Spanish La Liga campaign continued on Saturday when the Europa League winners for the past two seasons had to come from behind to rescue a point in a 1-1 draw at Eibar.

Unai Emery's side are 13th after eight matches, having managed only two wins.

But Pellegrini pointed to their 2-1 win over Spanish and European champions Barcelona earlier this month as evidence of their threat.

"Maybe everyone thought that Sevilla would be better in the Spanish League at this moment," he told a press conference yesterday.

Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling (front) will be hoping to replicate his scoring feat in Europe. He struck a hat-trick in Saturday's 5-1 Premier League thrashing of Bournemouth. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

"Maybe they didn't start well. But they beat Barcelona, so it's not easy. I spoke with the players this morning. We are sure we will play against the real Sevilla tomorrow; it's different to the domestic league.

"I am sure we will see them qualify for the next Champions League at the end of the season. They are an important team."

He refused to be dragged into discussing the Manchester derby when it was put to him that United's midweek trip to Moscow could provide City an advantage.

"I don't think travelling will make a difference," said the Chilean. "Wednesday to Sunday, you have a lot of days to recover.

"We're just thinking about Sevilla, not about United's travelling.

"We just need three important points at home to try to qualify for the next stage."

The manager confirmed that defenders Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov are both in contention to start.

But he will again be without striker Sergio Aguero, playmaker David Silva, midfielder Fabian Delph and defender Gael Clichy.

Both teams have three points from two Group D matches after losing to Juventus and beating Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Today's game will be an emotional occasion for City's Jesus Navas, who came through Sevilla's academy and played nearly 400 times for the club.

The 29-year-old winger won two Uefa Cups, one European Super Cup and two King's Cups before leaving for England in 2013.

"I'm very happy that we're playing Sevilla and really pleased they've managed to get into the Champions League so it's going to be a very special game for me," said Navas, a World Cup and European Championship winner, who last played for Spain in March 2014.

"We are playing against a team where I grew up and a club I played for since being a kid.

"Sevilla gave me everything so it will always be a special club for me, but we have a job to do and there can be no room for sentiment."


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2: Sevilla, Europa League winners in 2014 and 2015, have won only twice

in eight Spanish La Liga matches

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Sevilla, not derby, on Pellegrini's mind'. Print Edition | Subscribe