Sergio Ramos is surprised by Manchester City's struggles in the UEFA Champions League as Real Madrid make plans to eliminate their hosts at the Etihad Stadium.

Wednesday night's game, which will see former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo return to his former home city for the first time since leaving in 2009, is crucial.

Having fallen in the group stages last season, Roberto Mancini's City require a remarkable turnaround if they are to make progress to the knockout rounds in this campaign.

Ramos thought the Premier League champions would be Real's main rivals and is shocked the prediction did not prove correct but he has no plans to show any sympathy.

"We want to top the group," he said. "Real Madrid never play defensively. That is not in our nature. We are going to Manchester to win.

"City have improved in the Premier League. But we do not fear them. Real Madrid can win in any stadium in the world."

Ramos added: "For me, it's a surprise they are nearly out of the Champions League. We really thought City would be our main rivals to top the group.

"City are a big group of players, not just individuals. But that does not guarantee success in the Champions League.

"This is the hardest group in the first round and this match is very important for both clubs. We both need to win for different reasons."

The Villa supporters have taken to singing the Bulgarian's name in the 19th minute at each match as Petrov wore the number 19 shirt.

And the former Celtic man, who attended a charity match between a Petrov XI and a Villa Legends XI at Halesowen at the weekend - admits their backing is helping him through an awful time.

He told the Birmingham Mail: "I'm on the edge of starting crying every single time (they sing and applaud). I really appreciate it. The fans have been very supportive from the start until now. It's already been eight months I've been on treatment.

"I still get cards and messages and the turnout at the charity game was just unbelievable. But that's Villa fans for you. They love the club and the players."

Petrov tries to attend as many Villa matches as possible but admitted: "I've got another priority at the moment. I'm in remission and had quite a lot of chemotherapy.

"I'm in a consolidation phase at the moment. I've got a few more cycles to go. It's been a long road and it's been tough.

"From the start, I knew it was going to be hard. I didn't know it was going to be that hard. At the end of this road, you become an even better person."

Petrov added: "People say 'live every day as if it is your last' and I enjoy seeing my family, wife, kids, mum, dad, brother. I am battling hard. So far it's going well which is a positive thing."