After four seasons of underachievement, Manchester City will be desperate to end their wait to reach the last eight of the Champions League as they face Dynamo Kiev in the first leg of their last 16 clash.
Currently fourth in the Premier League, City could not come into this game in worse form, having lost each of their last three matches in all competitions. Defeats at home to two of their close rivals have cast their league title credentials into significant doubt, while manager Manuel Pellegrini made his intentions totally clear on Sunday when he fielded a drastically weakened team for their FA Cup tie at Chelsea, which ended in a heavy loss that spelt the end of any fanciful hopes of a quadruple.
As the whole world knows that this will be his final season in charge of the club, Pellegrini will be extra determined to put an end to City’s mysterious struggles in Europe’s leading competition. If they had everybody fit and firing they can prove a match to almost any side across the continent providing they do not show the opposition too much respect, which has been one of their main downfalls in recent seasons, and indeed in both of their group stage meetings against Juventus.
In order to have success, David Silva and Raheem Sterling must not allow themselves to be marked out of the game as their contribution is key to creating chances for striker Sergio Aguero, whose clinical edge in front of goal is superior to anything that Dynamo Kiev can offer.
Having tried and failed against the might of Barcelona in the past two seasons at this stage, this on the face of it appears a reasonably kind draw for Man City, but on the other hand it will be far from straightforward. The current Dynamo Kiev team is the best that the club has possessed for a number of years, and they fully merited their place in the knockout rounds after comprehensively getting the better of FC Porto to finish second behind Chelsea in Group G.
Their biggest threat will come from wide areas, where Andrey Yarmolenko continues to catch the eye and attract interest from across Europe, so he will provide left-back Gael Clichy with a testing evening in what will be an intimidating atmosphere in the Ukrainian capital. Managed by former Tottenham striker Sergei Rebrov, Dynamo Kiev are in their annual two-year battle with Shakhtar Donetsk to win their league title, in which they are behind on goal difference only.
The home side will take the game to City here as they will feel it is essential to take a lead with them to defend at the Etihad Stadium in the second leg, so it will be a test of resolve. However, avoiding defeat here will be pleasing for Pellegrini, as any kind of positive result would make them considerable favourites to advance.