"We have to win this game," said Manchester City FC's Manuel Pellegrini as he rallied his troops for their UEFA Champions League Group D visit to in-form FC Viktoria Plzeň.
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Manchester City FC coach Manuel Pellegrini struck an assertive note when he told media inquisitors that his team "have to win" their Group D opener at FC Viktoria Plzeň.
The 60-year-old, who led Málaga CF to the quarter-finals last term, also bestowed high praise on City's makeshift defence that could be reinforced by returning captain Vincent Kompany. His opposite number, Pavel Vrba, meanwhile, vowed that lessons had been learned from Plzeň's last foray into the UEFA Champions League in 2011.
Pavel Vrba, coach
Two years ago we were probably nervous, feeling the excitement as soon as we arrived in Prague. This time, we're playing at home and we feel good. The thrill of it all will probably start tomorrow. We have watched Manchester City's recent games in the Premier League, studying their formation and tactics. The important thing is to become familiar with our opponent and find ways to surprise them.
We have played well against some top teams and Manchester City are one of them. They have some of the best players in the world. We can't afford to take too many touches on the ball because they are very aggressive.
When we played against Barcelona, everyone stood in admiration of [Lionel] Messi. Now we have a lot more experience, and when we play the stars tomorrow, we will do it with our mouths shut.
Friday: FC Slovan Liberec 1-1 Plzeň (Kováč 78; Kolář 8)
Kozáčik; Rajtoral, Procházka, Hejda (Hubník 82), Limberský; Hořava, Horváth; Petržela, Kolář (Ďuriš 72), Kovařík; Bakoš (Tecl 59)
• Daniel Kolář has scored in each of his three league appearances this season following Friday's 1-1 draw at third-placed Liberec. Plzeň are one of three teams still unbeaten after eight rounds of the Czech First League, along with Liberec and AC Sparta Praha.
The joint-top scorer in qualifying with five goals, central defender Marián Čišovský misses out due to a calf injury. Radim Řezník could be handed a place on the bench if he passes a late fitness test.
Manuel Pellegrini, manager
We have to win this game. It's very important to start the group on a winning note. However, we know that we're playing a strong team. Vincent Kompany is a vital player for us, although the defence, apart from the game at Cardiff, have played well in his absence. We have three clean sheets in three games. I think Vincent will be 100% but if not, he won't play.
I made a lot of changes on Saturday, not only because of the Champions League but for the derby at the weekend. We will pick a team which is best to play tomorrow and then start thinking about Manchester United. The Champions League is never easy, even if there are weak teams in your group.
Plzeň are a good team. They haven't lost in their last 13 or 14 games and they're champions of the Czech Republic. I'm sure this won't be an easy group, but we will do our best to progress to the round of 16.
Saturday: Stoke City FC 0-0 Manchester City
Hart; Zabaleta, Javi García, Nastasić, Kolarov; Touré, Rodwell; Milner, Jovetić (Agüero 63), Nasri (Navas 73), Negredo.
• City kept their third clean sheet in the opening four fixtures of the season as they drew at Stoke for the fifth year running.
Kompany will undergo a late fitness test, while Gaël Clichy and David Silva have not travelled to Prague.
• Manchester City are looking to improve on a poor away record in the UEFA Champions League. They took no points on their travels in last term's group stage, while in 2011/12 they recorded one victory – at Villarreal CF – and two defeats.