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May 12, 2011

Mancini expects tough Stoke test

Roberto Mancini has warned his players that Stoke will prove tougher opponents than Manchester United as he gears up for Saturday's FA Cup final.

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Manchester City will be bidding to end a 35-year trophy drought when they take on Stoke at Wembley and, having dispatched of their arch-rivals in the semi-finals, they will be firm favourites against Tony Pulis' men.

However, Stoke proved their capabilities in their own semi-final when they thrashed Bolton 5-0, and Mancini insists it would be foolish to underestimate their opponents.

"Saturday will be harder than United," he said. "Stoke are a strong team and a very difficult team. If we want to win we need to play very well.

"We should pay attention in every situation. We cannot concede anything. To think Stoke are an easy team would be a mistake."

He added: "We have achieved one piece of history by going into the Champions League. Now it is time we won a title. It is important we start to do this as quickly as we can."

With City having secured their primary aim of a top-four finish with the 1-0 victory over Tottenham on Tuesday, Mancini will be looking to improve the squad even further this summer.

The Italian has long spoken of the need for Champions League qualification if they are to target the game's elite players and, told City have now been linked with Xavi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jack Rodwell in the press, Mancini laughed: "... and Messi and Ronaldo.

"This year we will play in the Champions League so it will probably be different. Now, maybe it will be easier to take good players because all the good players want to play in the Champions League."

Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko says he is determined to ensure that Manchester United supporters tear down the banner in the Stretford End that catalogues City's 35-year-trophy drought.

"I have heard about the banner," he said. "We want to change history and win something after a long time. I hope we will."

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