Manchester City defender Gael Clichy says the Blues must progress to the latter stages of the Champions League this season after failed attempts in each of the last two campaigns.
City have been dealt two tough hands either side of winning the Premier League title. They narrowly lost out to Bayern Munich and Napoli in 2011/12, but failed to win any of their six games last term in a group containing former European Cup kings Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.
The Blues have splashed the cash under new manager Manuel Pellegrini as they bid to break through to the last 16, adding Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Martin Demichelis to an already dazzling squad.
They face Bayern - now the reigning champions - once again this season, but will fancy their chances of sealing a top-two spot up against CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen, where City travel to in their opening game on Tuesday evening.
Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, the France full-back is more determined than ever to make it ‘third time lucky’ in their quest to qualify for the knockout stage.
“We have to go past the group stage this time around. The Champions League is a big thing for the club and we can’t hide that the chairman wants this competition to be a success for the club so we are going to go for it. We want to be regarded as one of the best sides in Europe.”
CITY IN EUROPE
- Dortmund W4 D2 L0 Pts 14
- Real Madrid W3 D2 L1 Pts 11
- Ajax W1 D1 L4 Pts 4
- Man City W0 D3 L3 Pts 3
- Bayern W4 D1 L1 Pts 13
- Napoli W3 D2 L1 Pts 11
- Man City W3 D1 L2 Pts 10
- Villarreal W0 D0 L6 Pts 0
Clichy has already experienced a Champions League final as an unused substitute in Arsenal’s 2006 defeat to Barcelona in Paris.
Now he wants to taste glory in a competition he rates as “probably the second best after the World Cup."
“You play against the top sides in Europe, even more so when you go through the group stage. Everything about the competition is great.
"You play at night, you play away from home in packed stadiums, the music before the games – everything is a souvenir that every one of us in the team was watching when we were 10 years old hoping that one day we would make it.”
Gael Clichy wears PUMA evoSPEED 1.2 bootscomments