• Fans aimed monkey chants at Yaya Touré in first fixture
• 'We need to support black players,' says Pablo Zabaleta
Manuel Pellegrini has warned CSKA Moscow fans that there should be no more racist abuse when their team visit the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday evening, with the Manchester City manager calling on them to remember that the 2018 World Cup is being held in their country.
During their first group game in Moscow two weeks ago a section of CSKA's supporters aimed monkey chants at Yaya Touré, causing Uefa to rule that a section of their stadium should be closed for their next home game in the competition.
CSKA denied that Touré had been racially abused during their team's 2–1 defeat, and Pellegrini was asked about the state of relations between City and their Russian opponents. "I don't know about the relations of both clubs," he said. "The fans of CSKA made an important mistake. The club, I don't know why they denied at the beginning or what their reaction is now, but Uefa acted and gave them the punishment they deserve. I hope we can leave it in the past and [give something to think of] for Russian fans because they have a World Cup in their country."
Pellegrini will not say anything special to Touré ahead of the game, which 500 CSKA supporters are expected to attend. "I think Yaya is an experienced player," the Chilean said. "What happened in Russia, maybe he can't forget but tomorrow is a special match for him, not because of that but because Manchester City can go to the next stage of the Champions League. I think he will only be thinking about football."
Pablo Zabaleta said: "Obviously what happened in Moscow was really hard for Yaya. We are all behind him and any time we see something like that we try to help the players. Hopefully Uefa is always on it, as players we can do nothing we just need to give a massive support to the black players when they have some problems like that. Let me talk about football, that is the most important thing.
"I don't want to talk too much about racist chants or problems because I think we need to be more focused on football. That is the most important thing. And let Uefa take decisions about it."
If City beat CSKA they are all but certain of progressing to the knockout stages for the first time in the club's history. "I think in the last four or five years this club has been improving incredibly," Zabaleta said. "We know that the owners been spending much money to try and build a good team and try and have one of the best teams in Europe. Sometimes it takes time. We won the FA Cup, the Premier League – the Champions League is a different competition, you play against the best teams in Europe.
"It is time for this club to take a step forward. If we can qualify for the next round, it will be great for this club. Hopefully in the next few years we can be one of the top clubs in Europe."
Pellegrini confirmed that Joe Hart will again be omitted in favour of Costel Pantilimon but the manager does not believe his decision has affected the England goalkeeper's confidence. "No, I think Joe reacted very well. He is a professional player," Pellegrini said. "For him it is also a good thing to have a rest after playing so many matches. He is working without any problem, supporting Costel Pantilimon. Nobody wants to be out but he thinks it will be useful for him."
Pellegrini added that Stevan Jovetic will be out for "three weeks" due to a calf injury.