Manchester City have been boosted by the return of David Silva and Sergio Aguero as they prepare for their second Champions League Group D match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Silva has been missing since the 2-0 home win over Hull in August with a thigh problem, whilst Aguero has missed the last two matches after picking up a knock against Manchester United.
Despite the £90 million City spent on new talent this summer, Silva and Aguero remain the team’s best attacking players, and their return will be vital for this game.
Pellegrini is unsure whether Silva will play 90 minutes, but having his creativity available again provides a big boost, while Aguero’s pace, as demonstrated against Plzen and Manchester United, is a threat to any side.
Aguero’s partnership with Alvaro Negredo was blossoming nicely before his recent injury, with both players seemingly complementing each other nicely—the strength and size of Negredo the perfect foil for the speed and trickery of Aguero.
Speaking to the press at the Etihad Stadium, Pellegrini said:
“David is in the squad list—I think he can play at least some minutes. Sergio is fit, and he is also on the list.”
City won their first group match comfortably—a 3-0 win away at Viktoria Plzen—but Wednesday night’s home tie against holders Bayern will be an altogether tougher test. The German champions are arguably the finest club side in world football, and City will have to improve on their performance at the weekend where they conceded a sloppy goal that gifted Aston Villa the points after the Blues had controlled much of the match.
Asked how his team will respond after the defeat at Villa Park, Pellegrini was confident his players can put in a good performance against Bayern.
“I always expect a good response from the players. We started very well in this Champions League, and it’s very important for us to continue. We play at home against the most difficult team in the group, so of course we need a high performance from all the players, and I am sure we will see a very good game.”
Edin Dzeko joined Pellegrini at the press conference, and he believes Bayern are one of the toughest teams in the competition but says games like this are exactly what his side have always craved.
“I have to say they were the strongest last year—definitely, we know that,” Dzeko said. “They’re defending the Champions League, and we always wanted to play the big games, and tomorrow we have chance to play against the best team.”
City’s failure to qualify from the Champions League group stages in their previous two attempts was one of the major reasons Manuel Pellegrini was brought in to replace Roberto Mancini. Pellegrini has qualified with both Villarreal and Malaga, two of the lesser lights in European football, and he feels City’s solid start to the group was only the first step in qualifying.
“For me, it was very important to win the first three points against Viktoria Plzen. The second thing is to try and win our points now at home. I know that Bayern is a very strong team, but I think we are also in a very good moment,” he said.
Dzeko is keen to forget past failures in Europe and instead focus on the future. The win in Plzen, he says, has been “important” for the team.
“We don’t have to think about the last two years anymore because it’s done. We didn’t reach the next stage, and I think we started this Champions League well which is important for the team.”
In what some may view as a dig at former manager Mancini, Dzeko claims he is more settled under Pellegrini and feels like he now has a manager who believes in his ability. Dzeko seemed almost certain to leave City in the summer after his relationship with the former manager broke down.
“I think my form is a tribute to the new coach. The manager is very important to a player's form, and I have noticed a difference. I think for every player it is important he knows the manager believes in him, and it is important he has the confidence of the manager. That helps you to find the best form."
City desperately need to compete more fiercely in Europe than they have done previously and qualifying from the group stage is vital for them this season. If they can win Wednesday night, they will be well placed to move into the last 16 for the first time.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.