MANCHESTER // Vincent Kompany and Roberto Mancini issued different kinds of warnings to Bayern Munich in a display of double defiance ahead of tonight's Champions League showdown with the Bundesliga leaders.
Manchester City welcome the four-time European champions to the Etihad Stadium knowing they need a victory and for Villarreal to take at least a point against Napoli to qualify for the last 16.
But Kompany, the City captain, is refusing to countenance a third-place finish in Group A while Mancini, the manager, has hit back at Bayern's chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, a constant critic of the Premier League leaders.
Bayern have already secured their place in the knockout stages as group winners but Kompany is confident City can overcome whichever side Jupp Heynckes names.
"Do we need a weakened team from Bayern to win the game? I don't think so," he said.
"I think they are a great team but we still have a lot to show in this competition. We still believe. That's what keeps us going and everyone is highly motivated."
Should City overcome Bayern while Napoli defeat Villarreal in Spain, Mancini's side will drop down to the Europa League, despite reaching 10 points, the normal benchmark for qualification.
Kompany said: "It's too early for me to conceive that we are not going to go through. I would like to see us with 10 points first and it would take away a little bit of the disappointment."
The Belgian believes that if City do progress from the toughest group, they have the potential to go a long way in the Champions League.
"If we qualify who is to say we will not be part of it?" he asked. "But if it is not this season, it will be next season. I am convinced of it. The goal stays the same. We want to be there eventually."
Those sentiments were echoed by his manager. "Every team are worried about Manchester City because City now and in the future could become one of the top clubs in the world," Mancini said.
Rummenigge, the great German striker of the 1970s and 1980s, may be more worried than most. He called for strict punishments for clubs who breach Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules, mentioning City by name. As has been noted at the Etihad Stadium, he has a habit of bringing City into a conversation.
"I don't understand Rummenigge's behaviour towards Manchester City," Mancini said.
"For six months, he talks about us every time and he says he hopes Napoli go through instead of us. He was an incredible player and he represents one of the top teams in the world but every time he says things against us. There are other teams in Europe who have problems with Financial Fair Play. It is not just Manchester City."
Bayern's first meeting with City, a 2-0 win in September, was overshadowed by the behaviour of Carlos Tevez, who refused to warm up when Mancini was hoping to introduce the Argentine as a substitute. The striker has not played for City since, but the Italian has confirmed he would have forgiven Tevez had the latter apologised 10 days later.
The forward's advisor Kia Joorabchian is now in talks with AC Milan about a January move and Mancini said: "I think that for us it is important to sell him. If he has a chance to go to Italy, I am happy for him."
City could be without the injured Aleksandar Kolarov and Micah Richards while Mancini is unworried about the quotes attributed to a third defender, Kolo Toure, suggesting African players are victimised by managers for representing their countries. "Kolo said he didn't say it," the Italian said.
11.45pm, Aljazeera Sport +5