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Pellegrini confident Manchester City will end recent slump in Kiev

Photo credit: AFP

Photo credit: AFP

Manuel Pellegrini insisted his Manchester City players are fully focused as they look to end a run of three successive defeats in their Champions League last 16, first leg tie at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday.

Pellegrini named a side with five teenage full debutants for the 5-1 FA Cup thrashing by Chelsea on Sunday, with the game in Ukraine in mind.

City have never been past the first knock-out stage of the Champions League, but they finished top of their group for the first time in five attempts this season to give themselves an excellent chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

The decision to rest the majority of the first-team squad for the FA Cup match came amidst a hectic run of fixtures, with City also facing a League Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday, followed by a Premier League visit to the Reds just three days later.

SEE MORE: Watch Dinamo Kiev vs. Manchester City for free with a 7-day trial to FOX Soccer 2GO.

Chilean coach Pellegrini will leave the Etihad Stadium in the summer, with Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola to take over, but once again he rebuffed claims the situation is taking its toll on his players.

“The important thing is to have a good performance, I’m not thinking about the future,” Pellegrini said on Tuesday.

“All the players from the start, they are just thinking in this season — that we have important challenges from now until the end of the year, and the best way is to be focused in every game.

“Now it is the Champions League, after that we have the (League Cup) final at Wembley on Sunday, and on Wednesday we will return to the Premier League.”

City were without several key men through injury at the weekend, but centre-back Eliaquim Mangala will be fit to try and help shore up a porous defense alongside captain Vincent Kompany.

Kevin de Bruyne, Jesus Navas, Fabian Delph and Wilfried Bony are all still out injured.

After the debacle at Stamford Bridge, Pellegrini said that the tie in Kiev is a totally different proposition for his players.

“Unfortunately for us, we had to make a difficult decision against Chelsea, but it was the only clear decision we had to make in this moment,” he added.

“If we had a completely fit squad, then a lot more experienced players could have played that game, but that was not the case.

“We had to take a chance but this (the Champions League) is absolutely different.”

This tie also represents a massive opportunity for Dynamo to re-establish themselves on the European stage.

It is the first time the Ukrainian champions have reached the Champions League knock-out stages since a semi-final loss to Bayern in 1999.

The capital city outfit have not played a competitive match since December 9, but have played 13 friendly matches in the 12 weeks since.

Manager Serhiy Rebrov is still unsure on the fitness of winger Andriy Yarmolenko, but the Ukraine international sees the two matches as a chance to put himself in the shop window for a dream move to England.

“I watch the Premier League and La Liga regularly as they are the best leagues in Europe in my opinion,” the 26-year-old told the Guardian and Ukrainian website sportarena.com.

“Although I have to say that English football holds the biggest attraction for me.

“Playing for such big crowds is what every player dreams about. I would like to do that week in and week out.

“It would be great to step into a stadium like that every three or four days. (That kind of atmosphere) is definitely something we lack here in Ukraine.”

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