Lech Poznan preview

The days leading up to todays game appear to have done little to sate the appetite for City-related headlines and rather than talk of tactics and qualification from the Europa League group stages, both Roberto Mancini and the players have been on the back foot once again, defending the club from many of the accusations that have been levelled.

James Milner has dismissed talk of disunity and splits in the camp as 'rubbish', whilst Mancini was even more forceful when talking to Italian news agency ANSA, accusing the media of 'resorting to fantasy and inventing stories'.

As I mentioned in the quarter mark of the season review, the one way to quell talk of disharmony and lack of unity is by winning, and tonight provides that opportunity in that regard, but also that victory would all but guarantee progression from Group A.

Since the sides last met, Poznan have sacked their manager and appointed former Spanish international Jose Maria Bakero, which could lift the side and from the evidence of their away following it is likely to be a lively atmosphere inside the stadium in Poland.

There is no doubt that victory a fortnight ago was more comfortable than anticipated and the opponents perhaps overestimated in some quarters. Aside from a fifteen minute spell following their goal, there was little danger from Poznan and even with a less than full-strength side it was a fairly routine evening all told.

Despite the importance of games in the group, Mancini has been more than willing to make a number of changes from the side featuring in the Premier League. Despite the pressure in him, I expect a similar approach with a difficult fixture against West Brom on Sunday.

Carlos Tevez is of course still on the sidelines (perhaps in mid air by now?) which means that Mario Balotelli will get more minutes under his belt, whilst Emmanuel Adebayor should also continue. Mancini has favoured changes to the defence and midfield in this competition, and the BBC report that both Kolo Toure and Yaya Toure will be absent. This could see chances for the likes of Dedryck Boyata, Joleon Lescott and Patrick Vieira whilst Adam Johnson or Shaun Wright-Phillips may feature.

Confidence has clearly taken a knock with back to back defeats and the continuing media focus, but with the derby looming on the horizon next week, there are two very winnable games coming up that provide the opportunity to restore it.

I doubt it will be quite as comfortable as the home fixture turned out to be, but a narrow 2-1 victory would not be a surprise.

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