Roberto Mancini admitted his Manchester City team have only "a 30% chance" of qualifying for the next stage of the Champions League as he reflected on the defeat that has left them on the brink of dropping into the Europa League.
City, now third in Group A, will have to beat Bayern Munich at home and hope that Napoli do not win at Villarreal – but the Spanish team have not picked up a single point so far and Mancini admitted he was not optimistic.
"I would give a 70% chance to Napoli and a 30% chance for us," he said. "It doesn't depend just on us any more. If Villarreal play a normal game they may still get a result. If they play a serious game we can still get to the second stage.
"But Napoli are the favourites now and life doesn't finish if we don't get through. Our target was to get into the second stage of the Champions League but we started the season with four different targets. Sometimes you lose, and if we don't qualify we will play in the Europa League."
Mancini felt his team were unlucky to be beaten, and he was reluctant to criticise any part of their performance other than to say that Napoli had won "because of two goals we could have avoided".
He added: "I thought we played well. We didn't deserve to lose, we had a lot of possession and we created a lot of chances. But we made mistakes and when you have players such as [Ezequiel] Lavezzi and [Edinson] Cavani they will always put you under pressure. We can improve, but it is not just in defence. It's all the team, not just the defenders. So I'm not disappointed with the performance and I'm sorry for the lads."
Mario Balotelli's goal means he has scored nine times in his past 10 matches for City, but the Italian's inclusion was a surprise given that he was suffering from a fever and was sick on the pitch.
Balotelli was photographed on Monday night after leaving the team hotel to join his girlfriend in a pizzeria, but Mancini confirmed the player had permission and said he did not regret picking him ahead of Sergio Agüero. "He was sick, but he didn't have any other problems. It was only a small fever, not serious enough for him not to play. He had my permission to say hello to his girlfriend for half an hour. And he scored, so maybe I should send all my players to a pizzeria."