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Pellegrini feeling pressure ahead of Bayern clash

By Agencies - Nov 24,2014 - Last updated at Nov 24,2014

LONDON — Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is feeling the pressure ahead of his side’s must-win match at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday but the Chilean says it is all self-inflicted.

The Premier League champions are bottom of Group E with just two points from four games and require victories from their remaining two matches to stand a chance of qualifying for the last 16.

After a disappointing start to their Premier League title defence and facing an early European exit, Pellegrini says he, more than anyone, understands the importance of winning the match.

“My own pressure to continue to the next round is an important pressure, more maybe than the owners,” he told reporters. “Of course, I think we must be in the next stage.”

If beating the 2013 European and current German champions Bayern wasn’t enough of a daunting task, City will be without suspended midfield pair, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, while playmaker David Silva is still sidelined through injury.

A City win on Tuesday would mean they visit AS Roma in the final group game with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.

Roma travel to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday with both teams level on four points.

Bayern are undefeated in all competitions this season, with Saturday’s 4-0 demolition of Hoffenheim further proof of their devastating power even when dealing with a string of injuries.

Captain Philipp Lahm is out for three months with a broken ankle and Bayern are still without Thiago Alcantara, Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and Javi Martinez.

But Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrated his comeback from injury on Saturday by setting up Bayern’s fourth goal after coming on as a 77th minute substitute.

Bayern have already secured top spot in the group with two games to spare but promise no complacency in Manchester.

“We will not just go there and play relaxed and see what comes out,” said winger Arjen Robben.

Schalke 04 coach Roberto Di Matteo is banking on his team’s perfect home record under his stewardship to deny his former club Chelsea the group win in their Champions League game on Tuesday.

Italian Di Matteo, who led Chelsea to the 2012 Champions League title as caretaker coach, took over at Schalke in October and so far has seen them win each of their four matches at home in all competitions.

A nervous 3-2 win over VfL Wolfsburg after an explosive start that saw them lead 3-0 after only 25 minutes confirmed Schalke’s good run at home under the Italian.

“We are happy with our performance,” he said. “We scored three goals and continue to have a great run at home.”

“We have the Champions League game on Tuesday where everything is open. But we want at least a point,” said Di Matteo, who is enjoying his first job since being sacked by Chelsea in late 2012.

With Chelsea top of Group G on eight points with two games remaining, Schalke, second on five, know that a draw could be enough to secure Chelsea the group win and put a dent in Schalke’s qualification hopes.

Sporting Lisbon, who have four points, take on last-placed Maribor in the other group game.

The fitness of Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been an ongoing saga throughout their first four Group G games, with the Spaniard, suffering with hamstring and pelvic problems, used only fleetingly so far by manager Jose Mourinho.

Ominously for Schalke though, the Blues boss says Costa is now fully recovered after being given a rest from the Spain squad during the recent international window.

To prove the point, the hitman continued his prolific club form with his 11th goal in 10 league games in the 2-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

That victory strengthened Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League table, with Mourinho’s men continuing their unbeaten start to the season in all competitions.

Mourinho himself played down the clash with Di Matteo saying: “It is Chelsea against Schalke, it is not me against Di Matteo. I don’t play against him.”

Lionel Messi will chase yet another record when the Champions League returns on Tuesday from a three-week break. The Argentine is poised to take sole possession of the competition’s all-time scoring record just three days after he rewrote the Spanish league’s record books.

Messi’s brace in Barcelona’s 2-0 win at Ajax on November 5 pulled him level with Raul Gonzalez on 71 goals as the joint-top scorers for the Champions League. Messi now hopes to leave Raul behind when Barcelona visits Cypriot side APOEL in Group F on Tuesday.

Breaking major records is what Messi does for a living. He will arrive in Cyprus fresh from his historic hat-trick on Saturday in Barcelona’s 5-1 defeat of Sevilla that left him with 253 Spanish league goals — two more than Telmo Zarra’s milestone of 251 goals in La Liga which had stood untouched since 1955.

And Messi will have the added pressure of Cristiano Ronaldo on his heels. Ronaldo has scored 70 Champions League goals and Real Madrid visit Basel in Group B on Wednesday.

Madrid, the defending champion, and Barcelona have already qualified for the knockout rounds along with Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and FC Porto.

Barcelona and PSG can set up a decider to see who claims first place in Group F if Barcelona win and the French side beat visitors Ajax also on Tuesday.

While Ronaldo chases Messi, Luiz Adriano will be chasing Ronaldo.

The Shakhtar Donetsk forward has already scored nine goals through the first four matches to equal Ronaldo’s record in the group phase in a single season.

Luiz Adriano can top the Ballon d’Or winner’s mark with a goal against Athletic Bilbao in
Group H on Tuesday. He already matched Messi’s feat of scoring five goals in one match earlier this season.

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