Man City must prove themselves in Europe
Dominant in England, Man City have run out of excuses on European stage
MAN CITY v JUVENTUS
(Tomorrow, 2.45am, Singtel TV Ch 112)
Another continental challenge awaits Manchester City.
This time, they can't say they aren't prepared.
With wind in their sails, they take on a beleaguered Juventus in their opening Champions League Group D clash tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Five straight wins in their opening five English Premier League matches, during which they kept five clean sheets, have taken them top of the table.
By contrast, Italy's most successful club, Juventus, are mired in a sticky spell.
Win-less in three games, the Serie A champions are bracing themselves for a full frontal assault by their English counterparts at the Etihad Stadium.
But City must keep their fingers on the trigger.
They know better than to let complacency creep in.
Transferring domestic supremacy onto the European stage has been their biggest problem since they qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 2011.
Their first two attempts ended in disappointment, finishing at the group stage.
However, in the last two campaigns, they made it past the group phase, only to be eliminated by Barcelona twice in succession in the first knock-out round.
Still, the results fell way short of their Middle-eastern owners' dream of European domination.
Yet, it will be unfathomable for them to not have picked up useful lessons along the way.
City have returned each term looking an improved version, but ultimately remain shackled to their own doubts.
One suspects the chains may be starting to come apart.
A victory over last season's Champions League finalists will set the tone for a daring charge at Europe's top prize.
A convincing one will send the sternest warning across the continent.
The absence of Argentinian hotshot Sergio Aguero will be keenly felt, no doubt.
But both David Silva and Raheem Sterling trained yesterday to allay fears that they may miss the clash.
And new star signing Kevin de Bruyne had tasted his first minutes in a City shirt when he came on as a 25th-minute substitute during the 1-0 away win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
With Vincent Kompany back to his best and central defensive partner Eliaquim Mangala starting to justify his £31.8 million ($68.9m) transfer fee, the visitors will struggle to find chinks in City's armour.
CIty have blown their Premiership rivals away in a blistering start that featured power, pace, panache and most crucially, fighting spirit.
Now's the time to apply what they learnt, on a stage they fear.
The Bianconeri look there for the taking. City must win, and do it in style.
In the Premier League this year, we're really determined and really hungry because we're frustrated from last season. It's the same in the Champions League. We're frustrated from many
seasons before. We just need to take that anger or that desire or that energy into tomorrow's game.
— Man City skipper Vincent Kompany
We play against a very strong squad, that's why they won the (Italian) title four years in a row and made the final of the Champions League. Maybe they haven't started that well but they continue
to have very good players.
— Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini on Juventus
BY THE NUMBERS
1 Manchester City have won only one of their last four Champions League opening matches.
3 City have not beaten Juventus in three European meetings.
22 City's Kevin de Bruyne set up 20 goals for former club Wolfsburg, the most in Europe's top five leagues last season.