Tottenham Hotspur
6:45 PM UTC Oct 25, 2016
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6:45 PM UTC Oct 25, 2016
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AC Milan
6:45 PM UTC Oct 25, 2016
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Borussia Monchengladbach
VfB Stuttgart
6:45 PM UTC Oct 25, 2016
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Sparta Rotterdam
PSV Eindhoven
6:45 PM UTC Oct 25, 2016
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2:00 AM UTC Oct 26, 2016
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Cerro Porteño
Independiente Medellín
12:00 AM UTC Oct 26, 2016
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
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By ESPN Staff

Balotelli: I want to be the best player in the world

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has set his sights on becoming the best player in the world, but accepts he will have to adapt to life in English football first.

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Balotelli, 20, arrived at Eastlands for £24 million from Inter Milan in the summer, but was almost immediately sidelined by a knee injury and is only just back in the first-team picture.

He endured a disappointing first Premier League start in the defeat to Wolves on Saturday but could get another chance to impress in Thursday's Europa League clash with Lech Poznan if he shakes off a knock to the thigh in time.

And while Balotelli concedes the physical nature of English football is a change from his Serie A upbringing, he is eager to get more experience of it.

"It was difficult for me on Saturday because it was my first full game after all the injuries,'' he said. "Now I have to get as many matches under my belt as possible so I can understand the way the game is played here because it is very different from Italy.

"The tackles are harder and the referees don't seem to blow very often for fouls - in Italy, when someone makes contact with you, it's a foul, but that's not the case in England.

"It was my first game and it wasn't easy for me because I need to get to know my team-mates on the pitch and understand their movement and that comes with time.''

Balotelli would not be the first player from continental Europe to find the culture shock of the Premier League a little too much but he has no intention of letting that dampen his lofty ambitions.

"I want to be the best player in the world," he said. "It is good to have ambition. I've said in the past that I don't care what other people want or expect of me because I know what I want.

"I will always give everything because I want to become the best. That is my aim and I am determined to make it happen. I am here at City to play Champions League football, that's the competition I want to be in and that is what all the players here want to play in.''

Prior to the back-to-back defeats by Wolves and Arsenal, Europe's elite competition seemed to be beckoning City next season, but for now it is the lesser lights of the Europa League - and Poland in particular - that await.

"We are going to Poznan to win - but that is normal. We want to win every game we play,'' he said. "The quicker we guarantee a place in the round of 32 the better. It is important we progress to the next stage.''

If fit, Balotelli will almost certainly feature against Poznan. First-choice striker Carlos Tevez has yet to return from Argentina where he is currently undergoing treatment for a thigh problem, Roque Santa Cruz has not been registered for Europe and Emmanuel Adebayor has been noticeably short of form.


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