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Aug 27, 2014

Pablo Zabaleta: Man City due UCL luck

Manchester City have only advanced past the Champions League group stage once in the past three years.

Pablo Zabaleta is hoping fortune finally smiles on Manchester City when they discover on Thursday who they will face in the Champions League group stages.

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The Premier League champions will be competing alongside Europe's elite for a fourth successive season but only managed to qualify for the round of 16 at the third attempt, and even then were promptly pitted against Barcelona.

In 2011-12, they came third in a group including Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal and the following season they propped up a pool with Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Ajax.

Zabaleta believes City have the quality to ensure that few teams will want to face them but is hoping to avoid the favourites in the early stages of the competition.

He said: "I think we know we are Manchester City and have a strong squad to play against the best teams in Europe.

"We will see the draw and this time if we have a little bit more luck than the last few years, because we were in the group of death and it has always been tough for us in Champions League. But it is a competition we are looking forward to and hopefully we can do better.

"The rest of the teams see Manchester City as a tough team to have in the group and I think that is the most important thing for us."

The Argentina international also praised Stevan Jovetic, who scored twice in Monday's 3-1 win over Liverpool as he looks to put an injury-hit first year at City behind him.

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"I can see him playing really well even in training," Zabaleta said. "He is doing great during the week. He is very hungry to play games this season and score goals."

With Alvaro Negredo injured, Jovetic and Edin Dzeko have started the season as City's preferred strike partnership, with Sergio Aguero being used as a substitute in both games.

And Zabaleta said: "We know we have four strikers in the team. We have a very strong squad. I think this is great for the team because we are going to play a lot of games this season and I think the manager will rotate players during the games."

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