In must win match, Real dagger hangs over City’s head

For the second successive season, Manchester City faces elimination at the Champions League group stage unless players who have failed to live up to their price tags can find a way to beat Real Madrid.

The underperforming English champions are last in Group D after collecting just two points from four matches.

City striker Carlos Tevez says "we only started playing in the competition last year so you need a bit of patience ... we know it will be difficult but you just have to keep on fighting until the end.''

Having yet to win a match in Group D, City are rock bottom with two points, yet victories over Real and in their final match away to group leaders Borussia Dortmund could see them squeeze into the last 16, depending on results elsewhere.

Real Madrid can advance with a game to spare by beating City. Real is a point behind leader Borussia Dortmund, which plays Ajax. Mancini will make a late decision on whether striker Mario Balotelli's back has recovered to face Madrid.

"Yesterday he trained with the physio and tomorrow and today he will train with the team and we will see if he can play,'' Mancini said.

Real star Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing in Manchester for the first time since leaving United in 2009.

City striker Sergio Aguero has an added incentive to help his side's slim chances. "It's always special to play against a club like Real Madrid. Personally, my connection with Atletico Madrid gives it an additional kick — but there's no difference in how much I want to win this match," Aguero said.

For some City players the last two Group D matches could now only be a matter of pride.

"Unlikely as it is that we will go through, we want to win our remaining two games and give ourselves at least half a chance," City winger James Milner said. "And if that's not good enough, at least we can finish with our heads held high."

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