Wednesday night sees Manchester City mix it with the big boys again as they continue in their Champions League adventure – And they don’t come much bigger than the reigning European Champions Bayern Munich.
City won their opening game 3-0 at Viktoria Plzen, but this encounter will provide a first real test for City under Pellegrini. Under his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, City failed to get out of the group stages in the last two campaigns and if they are to establish a serious reputation for themselves in Europe they will have to improve upon that this time round.
Those last two European campaigns were City’s first in the quest for the cup with the big ears since way back in 1968. That time England had two representatives in the European Cup and both were from Manchester; City represented England as champions and United were there as holders.
But back then, just as it has done lately, Europe’s premier competition brought little cheer for the blue half of Manchester and sadly for City they succumbed to Fenerbache in the first round 45 years ago this week.
It all began well enough in Istanbul, Tony Coleman giving City the lead after 11 minutes. After a goalless first leg City were now in the driving seat and they were doing a decent job of navigating their way through this tricky tie, Fenerbache looked a beaten side as they went in for the break.
The Guardian’s Albert Barham described it like this: “Ercan, the big, burly strong man of the defence shaped to head it back. Then he made mistakes. He decided to fox Coleman and anticipated that the ball would carry to Yavuz. It did not. Coleman, quick to spot the chance, pounced on it and as Yavuz came out to him, trying to tackle waist-high, Coleman popped the ball into the net. From then until half time the game was City’s to have if they could hold it. Oakes was playing superbly and Young did great work as City fell back on defence.”
But the second half couldn’t have started worse for the Blues as they conceded almost immediately after the restart, Abdullah the scorer after Ogun had squeezed the ball through a tiny gap in City’s massed defence.
City faced wave after wave of attack as the reinvigorated Turkish champions, roared on by a huge partisan crowd, tested their English counterparts resolve to breaking point. That point came with only 12 minutes left as Can’s free-kick was prodded home by Ogun.
It was a hostile environment the likes of which City had never encountered before and Fenerbahce in the end would not be denied.
Barham gives us an insight into what it was like that night in Istanbul: “They had begun the game, as was only to be expected, in a flurry of action which was almost hysterical, and from Can’s pass, Ogun put the ball into the net after six minutes. He was offside but not a Turk in the stadium – crammed to overflowing three hours before kick-off for this, Fenerbahce’s greatest match – would believe this. Players jostled the referee and hustled him in the general melee, but the official stood firm. He had a similar moment of embarrassment only seconds before the crucial goal. Again it was Ogun who got the ball into the net. Again he was offside. The scene was a repeat one.”
So City’s hopes of emulating their near-neighbours triumph from the previous May disappeared after just 180 minutes of football.
United on the other hand made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing out to eventual winners; Milan.
Manchester City v Bayern Munich
Man City: 2/1 The Draw: 12/5 Bayern Munich: 23/20
Correct Score: Man City 1-1 Bayern Munich at 13/2
First Goalscorer: Arjen Robben at 13/2
Scorecast: Aguero to score 1st, City to win 2-1: 70/1
BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Halftime/Fulltime: City/Draw at 14/1
Odds courtesy of William Hill