Pellegrini warns against taking Champions League opposition lightly

Manchester City takes on Viktoria Plzen in the first group game match of the new European campaign, and the manager insists its Czech opponent must be respected.
Manuel Pellegrini has warmed Manchester City against complacency as the club gears up for its Champions League opener against Viktoria Plzen.

The 2011-12 Premier League winner has crashed out in the group stage of Europe's premier club competition in the previous two seasons, and Pellegrini has urged his side to respect its Czech opponent or risk a similar fate.

"I think that all groups are difficult. It would be a big mistake to think that playing a team with less history in Europe would be easier to play," Pellegrini told the club’s official website. "We can’t be satisfied with the names of the teams we will face, but we will qualify if we play well. I think that any team can beat any other team in their group.

"And one thing is sure, that last season when the draw took place, Milan and FC Zenit St Petersburg were happy to be drawn against Malaga, and they felt they’d already qualified for the next round. But Malaga then went on to win the group. So it is the same now, this season."

Pellegrini has enjoyed success in the Champions League in the past and is convinced he can end Manchester City's struggles in the tournament.

"This is my fifth year in the Champions League and I am very happy about my last campaigns," Pellegrini said. "It is not easy to make it with a team like Villarreal and reach the semifinals, or to make it to a quarterfinal. The same happened with Malaga when we managed to make it into the quarterfinals.

"I think that the most important aspect is to make the players feel that they have the capacity, and feel the confidence to compete against teams at the same level, considering all the tactical aspects.

"But I have always repeated the same sentence to my players if we are eliminated in the Champions League, then it is because we faced a team that was superior to us and who played better than us and not, because they faced a bad team and were eliminated without any effort.

"So it has been three years now that the club hasn’t done well in Europe, and I think that if we want to qualify, we have to respect Viktoria Plzen, CSKA Moscow, and Bayern Munich the same way, and will try to put in our best performance to beat them."