Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has admitted it is difficult for his club to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League and that the Premier League champions are not ready to win European club football's biggest tournament.
"If we say we're ready to win it, we're not honest. In the Champions League it's clear that incredible situations can happen in February and March but we've been drawn in a tough group this year, like last year," Mancini explained.
"We're a good team but we're not ready in the Champions League, like the other teams. Chelsea tried for 10 years to win the Champions League. They were probably the best team in Europe for 10 years and they won it after 10 years, probably when they didn't deserve to. They deserved to win it three or four years before," the former Lazio and Inter Milan boss added.
The English champions have been drawn in a very daunting group, with Spanish champions Real Madrid, German champions Borussia Dortmund and Dutch champions Ajax for company. The Etihad club succumbed to a 3-2 defeat in Madrid, scraped a 1-1 draw at home against Dortmund and were then comprehensively outplayed in a 3-1 loss in Amsterdam in the opening round of games. The results leave them at the bottom of Group D with just one point.
However, Mancini stressed he had not given up all hope and insisted the players would have to dig deep to turn their European fortunes around.
"We have less chance of qualifying for the next round but, when you're a top team, even when you're out, you should play 100% in every game. We have three games left but we are only focusing on Ajax. There's no mental problem. The players are the same and the referees are the same. We just need to improve. I will change nothing.
"The players owe me three big performances. In the Champions League, if you score two goals, the game is finished. If you don't score, the game is open. We have lots of players with experience but, when you have the chances to score, you have to score."
City need to win at least two of their remaining three games and hope results elsewhere are favourable, in order to progress to the next stage. Mancini's men will have the advantage of playing two of those three games at home - against Ajax and Madrid - but the game in Germany could be the turning point, particularly since Jurgen Klopp's men have won both home games this season (1-0 v Ajax and 2-1 v Madrid).