High-flying Man City eye Europa top spot


PARIS: Manchester City may have grander ambitions than the Europa League, but the big-spending Premier League club can take a big step towards the knockout phase with a win over Lech Poznan on Thursday.
The Polish side are the surprise leaders of Group A after two matches, heading City on goal difference, while Italian aristocrats Juventus are third, two points adrift.
City supporters of a certain vintage will be heartened by the opposition being Polish as their last European trophy came following a Cup Winners’ Cup victory over another Polish outfit, Gornik Zabrze, in 1970.
However, Roberto Mancini, the current manager, is focused on the future and the need to accrue silverware; not only to reward the massive investment of the owners of the club, but also to give himself some breathing space in the job.
The Italian takes his side into the match on a great run of form after their 3-2 win last weekend over Blackpool saw City record four successive wins under his stewardship for the first time and move to second in the Premier League, two points off leaders Chelsea.
Mancini has so much strength in depth that he has said he intends to rest his talismanic Argentine striker Carlos Tevez as he does not want to tire him out with so much of the season to go. “I would like to rest Carlos,” Mancini told British newspaper the Daily Star.
“He has played a lot of games and when he goes away with Argentina it is difficult. He returned last week and he was tired.” Lech, though, will be no pushovers for City, having won their first domestic league title last season.
They will be looking to Artjoms Rudnevs to outwit the City defence in the same manner as he did against Juventus in the opening group match, when he scored a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw in Turin. City’s English rivals Liverpool have a richer record in European competition but, plagued by boardroom strife and on-field woes this season, they have looked to the Europa League for solace.