Munich - Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany believes that Wednesday's Champions League opener against Bayern Munich is a chance to prove that his side are closing the gap on the best teams in the world.
City face Bayern at the Allianz Arena hoping for a repeat of last season's 3-2 win over the German champions at the same venue. It is the third time in four years that the two teams have been drawn in the same group in the competition.
"It's a place we're becoming familiar with," Kompany said on Tuesday. "Every single time you come here it's an opportunity to prove yourself.
"We take it as a challenge. They're one of the top three clubs in the world at the moment. There's probably none, or not many harder places to come to.
"I think it's time for us to start making those games close and eventually make up the gap between us and those top three clubs."
City and Bayern finished level on points in last season's group stage but the Germans topped the group by virtue of a better head-to-head record, having beaten the English champions 3-1 in Manchester.
Kompany said that the experience of missing out on a potentially easier tie in the last 16 shows that City have to hit the ground running in Group E.
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"It's an important game in that sense," the 28-year-old Belgian defender said.
"We've seen how much damage it can cause to your hopes or how difficult your ambitions can become if you don't finish top of the group.
"It was very close last year. There was just a goal and we might have been top of the group. That was the difference between playing Barcelona in the next round or a team that was easier for us to defeat."
Bayern boss Pep Guardiola said City are one of a handful of teams capable of winning the Champions League.
But for all the money the English side have spent in recent seasons, Kompany feels they have to do their talking on the pitch.
"We've always showed signs of actually growing stronger and better," he said. "I don't think that any player right now at any club starts with a guarantee of going to the final.
"It's only one team who wins it every win year. You can be in the semi-final, final, you can do whatever you want. But ultimately last year it's only Real Madrid who won it and all the rest lost like we did."
City will be without suspended full-back Pablo Zabaleta on Wednesday while attacker Stevan Jovetic is still injured.
Assistant coach Ruben Cousillas will stand in for City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who is serving a touchline ban.
"I'm just here for 90 minutes," Cousillas said. "But I know how Manuel thinks and I have his support."