Rivals Aris celebrate with a win
- 05 January 2011 12:23
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
City's Europa League rivals Aris saw in the New Year by mirroring the Blues' 1-0 scoreline against Blackpool to climb into fifth place in the Greek Super League.
A third-minute strike from their own heroic Carlos - Guatemala record scorer Ruiz in Aris' case - was enough to pip Kavala in Thessaloniki and hoist Hector Cuper's team above their visitors.
Cuper, who twice steered Valencia to the Champions League final, will want to push his side into the top four before Aris play host to City in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 32 on February 15.
Aris, with 23 points from 16 games - but, surprisingly, a goal difference of minus two - can strike a blow in that direction on Saturday in Athens against Panathinaikos, currently two points behind leaders Olympiakos.
Should City overcome their Greek opponents next month - the second leg is on February 24 - Roberto Mancini's men will have to find a way past either Besiktas or Dynamo Kiev to reach the quarter-finals.
Besiktas are enjoying a Turkish Super League break until their game against Bucaspor on January 21, and sit fifth in the table, albeit a daunting 14 points behind the leaders Trabzonspor.
But they've already been busy in the transfer market, recruiting Portuguese trio Simao Sabrosa from Atletico Madrid, Hugo Almeida from Werder Bremen, and Manuel Fernandes, on loan from Valencia.
Besiktas haven't played since being held 1-1 by Gaziantepspor in Istanbul on December 19, but will aim for a semblance of match fitness with a Turkish Cup tie next week against Manisaspor, who beat them in the League.
Dynamo are sitting out the Ukrainian winter break in second place behind Shakhtar Donetsk but haven't been idle off the pitch. Yuriy Semin, who led Kiev to the 2008-09 title, returned as coach on Christmas Eve.