RM: City can handle pressure

City make their eagerly-anticipated first appearance in Europe’s

elite club competition on Wednesday as they host Italian side

Napoli, who finished third in Serie A last season. With German

giants Bayern Munich and Spaniards Villarreal also alongside them

in Group A, Mancini believes his side have their work cut out

despite their outstanding form this season. The Italian said: “I

think it is an exciting day for the club. “To play in the Champions

League after many years is very important, it is a special day.

“But I think we took the harder route in the Champions League. “In

this group there are four teams who can win the group or finish in

fourth position. It will be very hard for every team.” Few teams

can have entered the Champions League for the first time with so

much expected of them. After three years of heavy investment, City

are on a mission to establish themselves as one of the continent’s

top clubs and their performances this term suggest they can make a

big impact. Mancini is comfortable with such expectation and, with

plenty of Champions League experience in his squad, does not

believe players will be burdened by pressure either. He said: “I

think this is normal for us. “Now Manchester City are one of the

best teams in England and Europe. “For us it will be very important

to do our job very well in this group. “Tomorrow is the first game

– the first game is always a difficult game. “Napoli are a good

team, last year they did very well in the Italian championship.

“Several of their players have been capped for their national teams

and (Walter) Mazzarri is a very experienced manager. “I expect

Napoli to be a challenge but a lot of our players have played in

the Champions League and I don’t think they will feel pressure for

this game.” Aside from the excitement surrounding City’s entrance

to the competition, tomorrow’s match should also be poignant for

Mancini. The 46-year-old won three Serie A titles in charge of

Inter Milan but could not land the Champions League. He now has the

chance to impress again in front of an Italian audience. On an even

more personal level, his father is attending the game. He said: “It

is a special moment, also because Naples for me was really

important when I played. “To start a Champions League game against

an Italian team is a special moment.” After making a flying start

in the Premier League, winning all four of their games and scoring

15 goals, City should not be short of confidence. David Silva,

Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are in fearsome form while last

season’s top scorer and hero Carlos Tevez is pushing for a place.

Despite training today midfielders Gareth Barry and James Milner

are both doubtful, however, and will be assessed tomorrow morning.

Barry suffered an ankle injury on international duty last week

while Milner was concussed in Saturday’s win over Wigan. Mario

Balotelli is suspended after being sent off against Dynamo Kiev in

the Europa League last season while Nigel de Jong is still out with

a foot injury. City enter the competition with high hopes but

Mancini does not want to look too far ahead. He said: “Our target

for now is to get to the second stage. “It is important tomorrow we

start well in the group. “We want to do the best we can do but it

will be very hard because the Champions League is a strange

competition. It is difficult to say where we could arrive. “We want

to go to the second stage. After that we can talk in February.”