Rob: Euro rookies are ready to Man up
MANCHESTER CITY v NAPOLI Tonight, 7.45pm – Sky Sports 2
ROBERTO MANCINI has backed Manchester City’s Champions League newcomers to cope with the step up in class, claiming high-pressure games are nothing new to them.
City enter unchartered territory tonight when they begin their European Cup adventure against Napoli at the Etihad Stadium.
It’s the first game of what promises to be a daunting group that includes Germany’s four-time Euro champions Bayern Munich and Spanish outfit Villarreal. But, despite being novices at this level, Mancini says he has enough players who have played before in the competition – and at international football – to handle Europe’s top cup competition.
“We have players with a lot of experience,” said the City boss.
“A lot of our players have played in the Champions League and also played for their country.
“That shows they know what to expect. They can deal with the pressure of this game and the rest of the group.”
The bookies make Mancini’s star-studded squad favourites to make the knockout stages – and are even outsiders to challenge Barcelona’s crown.
But Mancini is refusing to look beyond the visit of Napoli and qualifying from their group.
He said: “It’s our first time in the competition. We want to do the best we can do but it will be very hard as it’s a strange competition.
“In this group there are four teams that can win the group or finish in fourth position. It will be very hard for every team.
“For us it’s important to do well in this group and our only target is to go into the second stage. That’s all we are looking at for the moment.” City might have scored goals for fun after bagging 15 in their first four games, but Mancini says the Italians can rival his strikeforce after putting his defence on red alert.
He added: “Napoli are a good team and this will be a very hard game.
“Edinson Cavani is a fantastic striker who works for the team, but they also have Ezequiel Lavezzi, Goran Pandev and Marek Hamsik who are very dangerous.”
Gael Clichy, who made 42 appearances in the competition for Arsenal, says his team-mates won’t fear anyone.
“The confidence is there and we go into this competition with no fear,” he said.
“We want to try to get forward a lot and play offensive football.”
JERMAIN MAN: Defoe (inset) was delighted when he heard Spurs were signing striker Emmanuel Adebayor
CONFIDENT: City boss Roberto Mancini
THREAT: Edinson Cavani