Football

Man City ‘ready to win Champions League’, says Villas-Boas

Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas said on Monday (Oct 26) that Manchester City are “a machine ready to win the Champions League”, on the eve of the two teams’ Group C clash.

City have never reached the Champions League final and are yet to even reach the semi-finals in four attempts under Pep Guardiola. The Citizens, who relinquished their English Premier League title last season to Liverpool, have won only twice in five league games this season.

“(City) are a machine ready to win the Champions League,” said Villas-Boas.

“They may not be at their best level, their coach admitted that. That’s why I allow myself to say that, but they are still at a higher level than us and remain the favourites tomorrow.”

Marseille, the only French club to win the European Cup, are playing their first Champions League campaign since the 2013-14 season, when they were knocked out in the group stage.

They lost this season’s opener to Olympiakos last week, but have made a solid start in Ligue 1 and are only three points behind the pace-setting Paris Saint-Germain and Lille.

Vital to Marseille’s set-up is the 33-year-old Dimitri Payet, who has scored only once this season, with Villas-Boas admitting he needs his star winger to find form.

“Dimitri (Payet) is a key player. We have spoken and we both know he can do better,” said the former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager.

“But it does not depend only on him, also on the team, which must help raise his level. He needs to rediscover what he brought to the team last season.”

City came from behind to beat Porto 3-1 last week in Manchester, but Guardiola will likely make at least one change to that team, with midfielder Kevin de Bruyne fit again and striker Sergio Aguero struggling with a muscle problem.

Villas-Boas also admitted he does not know what to expect from Guardiola, who has been criticised for tinkering tactically in Europe.

“Pep is able to create surprises,” the 43-year-old Portuguese said.

“The problem with City is that they have several dynamics and they can adapt. For us, however, this is not a game for experimenting.” – AFP

FootballChampions Leaguemanchester cityMarseilleANDRE VILLAS-BOASpep guardiolaGroup C