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City and Napoli back in the big time

Published: Tuesday 30 August 2011, 9.45CET
Sky blue is not the only connection between Group A rivals Manchester City FC and SSC Napoli as they end respective exiles of 43 and 21 years from Europe's elite competition.
City and Napoli back in the big time
Sergio Agüero will face his father-in-law Diego Maradona's old club, Napoli ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 30 August 2011, 9.45CET

City and Napoli back in the big time

Sky blue is not the only connection between Group A rivals Manchester City FC and SSC Napoli as they end respective exiles of 43 and 21 years from Europe's elite competition.

Manchester City FC will stage their first game in Europe's elite club competition for 43 years when they welcome SSC Napoli for their opening Group A fixture in this season's UEFA Champions League.

• City's only previous participation at this level was back in the 1968/69 season when they met Fenerbahçe SK in the first round of the European Champion Clubs' Cup and were eliminated after a goalless home draw and 2-1 away defeat.

• A sky blue home shirt is not the only thing linking the clubs as visitors Napoli are also new to the competition in its modern format although they did participate in the 1987/88 and 1990/91 Champions' Cups, reaching the second round on their second appearance.

Match background
• Both clubs are returning to the European Cup on the back of a domestic resurgence. City qualified for the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in the Premier League last season – their highest finish since 1977. Napoli's third place in Serie A was their best performance since 1990.

• City reached the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League in 2010/11, losing to FC Dynamo Kyiv. After winning five and drawing one of their six home games in that campaign, they are now unbeaten in 12 European matches at the City of Manchester Stadium, their last reverse coming against FC Midtjylland in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup second qualifying round.

• City have never met Napoli before but have a good home record against Italian opposition. In the 1970s they beat both Juventus and AC Milan – Brian Kidd, now assistant manager, scored in both games – and recorded a 1-1 draw with Juventus in last season's UEFA Europa League.

• Napoli had not faced any team from England before taking on Liverpool FC in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage. After a goalless draw in Italy, they led 1-0 until the 76th minute of the Anfield return thanks to Ezequiel Lavezzi's first-half strike, before falling to a late Steven Gerrard hat-trick.

• The Naples club went on to reach the last 16 where they went down to Villarreal CF, their second opponents in Group A this season.

Team ties
• City's Italian manager Roberto Mancini has faced Napoli as both player and coach. In the latter guise, when in charge of FC Internazionale Milano in 2007/08, he recorded a 2-1 home victory and 1-0 away defeat.

• As a player Mancini scored in UC Sampdoria's 4-1 aggregate win against Napoli in the 1989 Coppa Italia final. It was also against Napoli that he struck what is remembered in Italy as perhaps his finest goal for Sampdoria – a spectacular volley in a 4-1 win at the Stadio San Paolo in 1990/91, the year his old team won the Scudetto. The following season Mancini hit five goals to help Sampdoria reach the European Cup final.

• City's first-team coach David Platt scored the winner in Juventus' 4-3 defeat of Napoli in March 1993.

• Sergio Agüero is the son-in-law of Diego Maradona, the inspiration behind Napoli's 1987 and 1990 title triumphs.

• Agüero and Zabaleta are team-mates of Federico Fernández with Argentina.

• Andrea Dossena spent 18 months with Liverpool between 2008 and 2010. He scored his only Premier League goal against City's neighbours Manchester United FC in a 4-1 win at Old Trafford on 14 March 2009.

• Walter Gargano was on target for Uruguay in their penalty shoot-out win against an Argentina side including Agüero, Carlos Tévez and Pablo Zabaleta in the quarter-finals of July's Copa América. Tévez missed his spot kick while Napoli's Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani were unused by Argentina and Uruguay respectively. Lavezzi played alongside Zabaleta for Argentina's CA San Lorenzo in 2004/05.

• Aleksandar Kolarov and Goran Pandev were team-mates at S.S. Lazio between 2007 and 2009. Mancini had just left Lazio as coach when Pandev joined the capital side in 2004 and departed Inter before the forward joined the Nerazzurri.

• Edin Džeko has already scored one UEFA Champions League goal on Mancunian soil – for VfL Wolfsburg in a 2-1 loss at Manchester United on 30 September 2009.

Last updated: 12/09/11 14.43CET

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