Mancini ready for tough time

BY foxsports • November 19, 2011

City put themselves firmly on course for the last 16 by completing back-to-back wins over Spanish side Villarreal earlier this month to move up to second in Group A. But Tuesday's tough away test at Napoli has long looked like being the key fixture of the group campaign, and so it remains. While City will be assured of a place in the second phase with victory at the San Paolo Stadium, anything less could leave them needing to beat group leaders Bayern Munich in their final game. As Napoli have a theoretically easier assignment against winless Villarreal in their concluding match, there appears little room for error. Mancini said: "I think we have a good chance now we are in second position but I think it will be difficult in Naples. "For Napoli it is the last chance but I think it is important we play football and that we can go through." Napoli, third in Serie A last season, have already troubled City once, having claimed a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium in September. With the atmosphere also likely to be an intimidating one for Mancini's men, the match will be a stern test of the Premier League leaders' European credentials. City were impressive in beating Villarreal 3-0 away last time out, but prior to that their European form had been unconvincing. Domestically they have been outstanding, most notably thrashing rivals Manchester United 6-1 last month, but it has taken them time to adapt in their first Champions League campaign. Nevertheless, Mancini feels his team are high in confidence and believes they belong in elite company. He said: "We started the season very well and this confidence is important for the team. "I don't think at this moment we are better than Real Madrid, Barcelona, United - but probably we are at the same level, we are very close with this team." Failure to progress would probably mean a place in the latter stages of the Europa League in the new year, but that is not likely to be seen as much consolation for a season that promises so much. Mancini believes City are now entering a critical phase of their campaign with a tough Premier League trip to Liverpool next weekend followed by a Carling Cup tie at Arsenal. "I think the crucial moment will be now - December, January, these two months," he said.

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