Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany accepts that it is time for his expensively assembled side to make a statement in the Champions League ahead of Tuesday’s opening fixture against Juventus.
Eliminated twice by Barcelona in the last 16 in the last two seasons, after group-phase exits in the previous two years, City have strengthened their squad again in pursuit of an elusive European breakthrough.
It has yielded a storming start in the Premier League, which Manuel Pellegrini’s side lead by four points after five straight wins, and Kompany is eager to take that form into the Champions League.
“Everything’s been so bright and so good for us so far,” he said on Monday.
“It’s the same as what people have been saying for the last three or four years. As long as we don’t show our quality in the Champions League as we have done in the Premier League, there’ll aways be something left behind that leaves us unsatisfied.
“So it’s a really important game for us. We’ve been looking forward to the start of this competition since the disappointing game in Barcelona last year.
“In the Premier League this year, we’re really determined and really hungry because we’re frustrated from last season. It’s the same in the Champions League. We’re frustrated from many seasons before.
“We just need to take that anger or that desire or that energy into tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) game.”
I think it was a clever move – Kompany praises the club’s hierarchy for extending Pellegrini’s contract
Having been at City since 2008, Kompany knows how quickly the wind can turn against unsuccessful players and managers, and he congratulated the club’s hierarchy for heading off potentially unsettling speculation about Pellegrini’s future by awarding the manager a new contract last month.
“Traditionally, it’s not a club where people stay for a long time when they don’t do well, players and managers,” the Belgian centre-back told a pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Group D game.
“I think it was a clever move in the sense that you don’t want to be talking about contracts when March, April come and you’ve got important games to play and people might use it against you.”
With Sergio Aguero ruled out by a knee injury, Kevin De Bruyne could make his full debut against Juventus, last season’s beaten finalists, after making an impressive entrance in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.
A A?54 million ($83.3 million, 73.5 million euros) recruit from Wolfsburg, De Bruyne is a walking symbol of City’s determination to make amends for recent disappointments both domestically and in Europe, but Kompany says that his countryman bears his club-record price-tag lightly.
“I have seen him this morning and he looked very relaxed,” said the City skipper.
“Kevin is just a chilled guy. He knows how good he is, so statistics and all this kind of stuff won’t put pressure on him.”