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English Premiership

City on brink ahead of Bayern test

PELLEGRINI-TITLELONDON, November 24- Manchester City are teetering on the brink of a third Champions League group-phase elimination in four seasons ahead of Bayern Munich’s visit to the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

City’s dismal 2-1 loss at home to CSKA Moscow in their previous outing left them bottom of Group E with only two points and they will be knocked out if they fail to beat Bayern and there is a winner in the Russian champions’ home game with Roma.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side can draw some solace from the fact that Bayern, who shaded September’s reverse fixture 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal by former City player Jerome Boateng, are already guaranteed to qualify as group winners.

City will also take inspiration from their 3-2 win away to Bayern in the group phase of last season’s competition, although the circumstances then were quite different, with the visitors having already secured a place in the last 16.

City’s hand has been weakened by suspensions to Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, both of whom were sent off — the former for a petulant shove — during the defeat by CSKA Moscow on November 5.

And although City came from behind to beat Swansea City 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday, midfielder Samir Nasri knows that Pep Guardiola’s ruthless Bayern side will be a very different proposition.

“We are really lucky to still be in with a chance of qualifying because, with two points and two games left, normally you are out,” said the former France international.

“Now is our chance. We have to take it and play with nothing to lose. We can take a lot (from beating Swansea), but a game against Bayern Munich will not be the same as a game against Swansea.

“No disrespect to Swansea, who are a great team, but Bayern Munich have world-class players in every position.”

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– In contention –

Bayern have gone 18 games without defeat since losing to Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup on August 13, winning all four of their games to date in the Champions League.

The 2013 European champions extended their lead at the Bundesliga summit to seven points by crushing Hoffenheim 4-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Bastian Schweinsteiger made his first competitive appearance since starring for Germany in the World Cup final, coming on as a late substitute, and Guardiola has hinted that he could feature again at City.

“It’s good news for him and for us. I have seen how important Bastian is for the club and the fans,” said Guardiola, who is bidding to win his third Champions League title as a coach after two previous successes with Barcelona.

“With Philipp (Lahm), David (Alaba), (Javi) Martinez and Thiago (Alcantara) out, we now have a super midfielder back, but he has only trained for a week with us.

“He’s not ready for 90 minutes, but he has huge amounts of experience. But for this period now until Christmas with the Bundesliga and Champions League, he will of course be a big help to us.”

Schweinsteiger’s return will help to ease Bayern’s problems in midfield, particularly in light of the fractured ankle that is expected to keep Lahm out for three months.

With Toure and Fernandinho both unavailable for City, Fernando, James Milner and former Chelsea veteran Frank Lampard are all in contention to start in central midfield.

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Captain Vincent Kompany made his return from a calf complaint against Swansea, but Spanish playmaker David Silva is not expected to feature after missing City’s last four games with a knee problem.

Recent form does not favour City. The English champions have won only two of their last nine Champions League home matches, while Bayern have lost just one of their last 13 away games in the competition.

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