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Focus back on pitch for City

Manchester City host CSKA Moscow next week hoping to turn focus back to football and take another stride towards the Champions League last 16.

Last Updated: 02/11/13 at 15:17 Post Comment   

Fernandinho: Looking to put past behind him

Fernandinho: Looking to put past behind him

The last meeting betwen the two sides in the Russian capital a fortnight ago was marred by the racist taunting of Yaya Toure by a section of CSKA supporters.

The club vehemently denied that racial abuse occurred but were found guilty by UEFA and have been hit with a partial stadium closure for their next home fixture in the competition.

The matter could also overshadow the build-up to Tuesday's return Group D encounter at the Etihad Stadium, as CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky faces the British media the night before.

But in terms of the action on the field, City should be confident of following up their 2-1 win on a difficult surface in Moscow with another victory on their home ground.

With Bayern Munich also expected to sweep aside minnows Viktoria Plzen for a second time, another City win would tighten their grip on second place.

With champions Bayern firmly established at the top of the group and Plzen the most likely wooden-spoonists, City and CSKA are effectively battling for the runners-up spot.

After City's failures in the past two seasons, qualification for the knock-out stages was one of the minimum targets handed to Manuel Pellegrini when he took over as manager in the summer.

Midfielder Fernandinho is determined to push City forward towards the next phase.

"I hope so," said the Brazilian, a £30million summer signing from Shakhtar Donetsk.

"We are working every day to achieve that objective, which is to qualify for the next stage."

Fernandinho was City's top target as City reshaped their squad in the close season in the hope of finally making an impact in Europe's top club competition.

The 28-year-old has settled in well in the heart of City's midfield, largely playing an anchor role to liberate the attacking skills of Toure.

Yet the team remains a work in progress, a fact underlined emphatically when City were outplayed by Bayern a month ago.

"Bayern have been playing together a long time, while our team have just been formed," Fernandinho told UEFA's Champions Matchday magazine.

City have also been inconsistent on the domestic front but their expensively-assembled squad will be expected to settle.

Fernandinho already feels comfortable and is also content with life off the field.

He said: "I've settled in well here. Despite the short time it's going well, me and my family are doing well.

"My son is going to school, my wife is doing something she's used to and she may well also do some courses.

"The normal things in life are going well. In my professional life I'm playing always and everything is okay."

While the match will be City's first at home against Russian opposition, CSKA have visited England on four previous occasions, all in the past decade.

They are still to win in England having drawn three - most recently at Manchester United in 2009 - and lost one.

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

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