• 'We beat Bayern … we are not so far from the big teams'
• Silva and Negredo out of FA Cup tie against Watford
Manuel Pellegrini believes that as soon as Manchester City win titles they will join Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona as one of Europe's elite clubs, with the manager stating that everything is in place for this to happen.
City are the only team who can claim an unprecedented quadruple and have been unbeaten since 10 November, a run that has featured 20 wins and only two draws.
They meet Barcelona in the Champions League first knockout stage after already winning away at Bayern during the group stage. Asked if everything is in place to become another of the continent's heavyweights, Pellegrini said: "I think so. We are working every day more. We beat Bayern Munich already in Germany so I repeat this team has a lot of things to improve but I think we are not so far from the big teams.
"The only way to continue improving is to win titles. If you win titles it's because you do the right things. All the big teams have good players also. The way we are working, maybe given time we are going to be a very strong team in Europe. I repeat for the first time we qualified for the round of 16. We have a tough game against Barcelona but I am sure it will be very difficult for the team that continues because they have to play a good game."
City have scored 106 goals in all competitions. The only criticism aimed at Pellegrini's side is that they can be susceptible to the high ball, as when Fraizer Campbell scored for Cardiff City towards the end of last weekend's 4-2 win.
Pellegrini is not concerned. "One of the best things we do is the way we defend. That is why we can be an attacking team. If we don't know how to defend well, it is very difficult for the team to play. We are just finishing the Capital One Cup and we have just one goal conceded. In the league I think we are the fourth best defence but we have 20 goals more than the best attackers. Of course, if you had 10 players defending the whole match it would be difficult for the other team to score against us but I don't think that we don't defend well. I think we defend very well."
He also believes that Fernandinho, the £30m summer signing, should be called up by Brazil. "Really surprised that [he] is not in Brazilian team so far. I am sure he will be because he is a top player," said Pellegrini.
"I suppose that Luiz Felipe Scolari sees all the games of Manchester City and Fernandinho is one of the best players this season."
David Silva, who has a hamstring problem, and Álvaro Negredo, who has an injured shoulder, will not feature in Saturday's FA Cup home tie against Watford, though neither injury is serious.
Beppe Sannino heads into the lion's den wanting his players to have a good time. "This game should be a gift for my players. I know we played there last season but I still believe it is a gift," the Watford manager said.
"We don't want a game where we watch them and don't do anything – we want to create some problems even though they are where they are in the league. If we keep our composure and our shape, we should have a good time. We have to use our intelligence."