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Whittaker: Deserved win at Man City

Stoke 18 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 13, 2011

Mancini: We'll cope with pressure

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says he is excited by his Champions League challenge but expects the group stage to prove tough.

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City make their eagerly-anticipated first appearance in Europe's elite club competition as they host Italian side Napoli, who finished third in Serie A last season. With German giants Bayern Munich and Spaniards Villarreal also alongside them in Group A, Mancini believes his side have their work cut out despite their outstanding form this season.

The Italian said: ''I think it is an exciting day for the club. To play in the Champions League after many years is very important, it is a special day. But I think we took the harder route in the Champions League. In this group there are four teams who can win the group or finish in fourth position. It will be very hard for every team.''

Few teams can have entered the Champions League for the first time with so much expected of them. But after three years of heavy investment, Mancini is comfortable with such expectation and, with plenty of Champions League experience in his squad, does not believe players will be burdened by pressure either.

He said: ''I think this is normal for us. Now Manchester City are one of the best teams in England and Europe. For us it will be very important to do our job very well in this group. Tomorrow is the first game - the first game is always a difficult game.

''Napoli are a good team, last year they did very well in the Italian championship. Several of their players have been capped for their national teams and (Walter) Mazzarri is a very experienced manager. I expect Napoli to be a challenge but a lot of our players have played in the Champions League and I don't think they will feel pressure for this game.''

City enter the competition with high hopes but Mancini does not want to look too far ahead.

He said: ''Our target for now is to get to the second stage. It is important tomorrow we start well in the group. We want to do the best we can do but it will be very hard because the Champions League is a strange competition. It is difficult to say where we could arrive. We want to go to the second stage. After that we can talk in February.''

Despite training midfielders Gareth Barry and James Milner are both doubtful, however, and will be assessed before the game. Mario Balotelli is suspended after being sent off against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League last season while Nigel de Jong is still out with a foot injury.

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