Sergio Aguero rallies City to complete Real assignment
Argentine star says side must not lose hope as they take on Spanish giants and keep dream live
Agence France-Presse in Manchester
Sergio Aguero has urged his Manchester City teammates not to lose hope as they seek to keep their Champions League campaign alive against Real Madrid tonight.
After drawing 2-2 at home to Ajax in their last outing, the English champions have no room for error and must beat Jose Mourinho's side at the Etihad Stadium to stand any chance of reaching the last 16.
Even then, the odds would be stacked against them. Only two teams have previously qualified from such a hopeless position after four group matches - Lokomotiv Moscow in 2002 and Porto in 2004. City would still need to win at Borussia Dortmund in their final group game and hope other results went their way.
Aguero, who netted twice in City's 5-0 defeat of Aston Villa at the weekend, never won against Madrid during his time with their city rivals, Atletico, but hopes tonight's game will end that jinx.
"We should never give up. Where there's a will, there's a way, right?" the Argentine said. "Of course, it's harder now because we're not just relying on ourselves but also on the other teams' results.
"I think it's even more significant now than if we had been in a better position in the table. It may sound strange, but I firmly believe that. We must win this game.
"We have a great team, I have no doubt about it and now it is time for us to show just how good we are."
City coach Roberto Mancini declared his side's chances of reaching the knockout phase dead after the draw with Ajax left City bottom of group D with only two points, but the win over Villa - which took City top in the Premier League - softened his tone, albeit slightly.
"We want to do a good job. We will have not much of a chance to go through, but we will try," said the Italian, whose side lost 3-2 in Madrid in their opening group fixture after conceding a 2-1 lead.
In Mourinho, Mancini faces the man who succeeded him as coach of Inter Milan in 2008 and then led the Nerazzurri to the Champions League title two years later. It will be Mourinho's 100th match in the Champions League and, at 49, he has reached the milestone at a younger age than any other coach.
But Mourinho knows defeat at City could seriously compromise Madrid's season. The Spanish champions are already eight points behind Barcelona in La Liga and the pursuit of the club's 10th European Cup has therefore been given added significance.
Sami Khedira, who netted the fifth goal in the 5-1 demolition of Athletic Bilbao last Saturday, says Madrid should follow the proactive strategy adopted by Dortmund when they held City to a 1-1 draw in October.
"Dortmund showed how you can compete there: playing a tight game, competing for every ball, and trying to impose your style of play. So I think we have a good chance," the German midfielder said.