Mancini ready for tough test

BY foxsports • November 21, 2011

City can secure a place in the last 16 of the competition with victory at the San Paolo Stadium but Mancini is expecting a contest unlike any other so far this season. Mancini's side have swept almost all before them on the domestic front, powering to a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League with 11 wins in 12 games. Yet after a stuttering start in their maiden Champions League campaign, City must now come through a stern test in one of Italian football's most intimidating arenas to keep their European bid on track. Anything less than victory could hand an opportunity back to Napoli and leave City needing to beat Bayern Munich in their final Group A game to guarantee progress. Mancini said: "The team is in good form. "Every game is difficult but we are playing every three days - it is hard. "Tomorrow will be so different from the other games because it is the last chance for Napoli. "It will be a very difficult game for us. "For us it's the first time so I don't know if it will be possible but for this reason we want to try to get into the second stage and if we want to do this we should win tomorrow. "After that anything can happen because we are a good team, we can improve a lot, but before we should think only regarding the game tomorrow." Much has been made of the likely atmosphere at the San Paolo, which City are likely to find hostile. Mancini does not have a problem with that and hopes there are no security problems. There is a hardcore fan element that attaches itself to the Naples club and City did issue a safety warning to travelling supporters on their website. Mancini, whose wife and mother are from Naples, likes the city and hopes supporters have not been put off making the trip. The Italian said: "Naples is a beautiful city and maybe they [fans] will arrive tonight. "I can't think they will not come to Naples for that reason." As for the noise likely to greet his side as they run out, Mancini said: "It is normal. The fans of every club in every city will support their team. "Napoli fans are very passionate but I am sure it will be a good atmosphere. "These are the kind of matches that are really good to play in." Mancini has fond memories of the San Paolo Stadium as a player, not least when he scored twice for Sampdoria in a 4-1 win over Napoli during the 1990-91 Serie A title-winning campaign. That victory came against a Napoli side which included club legend Diego Maradona, the father-in-law of current City star Sergio Aguero. Maradona is unlikely to be in the crowd following the recent death of his mother and Mancini sent his condolences. He said: "Of course I have a lot of good memories of (his) many goals. "The match is important tomorrow but we send big wishes to Diego for the loss of his mother. We shared a lot of good memories." Mancini, speaking at his pre-match press conference, was asked by local journalists about the progress of his fellow Italian Mario Balotelli. The maverick striker has been in fine goalscoring form of late and recently earned praise from Italy coach Cesare Prandelli after finding the net against Poland. Mancini said: "He is still making great progress, he needs to keep improving. "He needs to keep on doing what he is doing and needs continuity in what he is doing. "We hope he can show what he can do tomorrow."


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