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Richard Jolly profile picture Posted by Richard Jolly
Aug 29, 2014

Manuel Pellegrini "absolutely sure" of Man City Champions League progress

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop gives his take on the UEFA Champions League's group of death and teams that may surprise us during the group stage.

MANCHESTER -- Manuel Pellegrini is confident Manchester City will qualify from the Champions League's "group of death" and refused to complain about the seeding system that gave them another tough pool.

- Cox: Man City capable of exceeding expectations in Europe
- Curtis: Third meeting with Bayern a sign of City's progress
- Brewin: Familiar foes meet again

The Premier League champions will face Bayern Munich, Roma and CSKA Moscow in Group E in what City's director of football Txiki Begiristain called the "toughest group" possible.

But after taking the club into the last-16 for the first time in his debut campaign, Pellegrini believes he can steer City into the knockout stages again.

"Yes, of course. Last year we lost first position in the group to Bayern on goal difference," he told a pregame news conference on Friday. "This year with more experience, with the trust that we have already qualified for the round of 16, I am absolutely sure we are going to continue."

But while City were only in the second pot of seeds, Chelsea and Arsenal, who finished third and fourth in the Premier League, were top seeds.

It is the third time in four seasons City have been drawn in what has swiftly been dubbed the competition's "group of death," and the third time they have faced 2013 champions Bayern.

But Pellegrini insisted it is not an issue, adding: "It is not a problem. It is the rules of the draw. Maybe there are different systems to do it but at the moment this is the system and we can do nothing to change that."

City were also drawn against both Bayern -- who they beat in Munich but lost to Manchester --and CSKA -- who they defeated home and away -- last season, but the difference is they now face Serie A runners-up Roma instead of Czech minnows Viktoria Plzen in their other fixtures.

"I think it is a similar group to last year, a difficult group with Roma also in our group, it is a very difficult group," he said. "We must play and try to qualify. Maybe another draw is not as difficult as our group, but we must qualify the same."

City midfielder Yaya Toure was racially abused by CSKA Moscow supporters in last year's fixture with UEFA punishing the Russians with a fine and a partial stadium closure, and Pellegrini hopes there will be no repeat.

"I suppose this year we will not have any problems, not only with Yaya," he added. "I remember the pitch was in a very bad condition. I hope for CSKA Moscow it is a lesson they will learn."

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