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In flying form for club and country this season, Manchester City FC's versatile attacker David Silva paid tribute to manager Roberto Mancini ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group A match at home to Villarreal CF on Tuesday.
While City are making their competition debut, Silva reached the 2006/07 quarter-finals with Valencia CF, having scored in the previous roundto put out Mancini's FC Internazionale Milano. Mancini brought Silva to Manchester last year, and Silva, fresh from two goals in Spain's 3-1 defeat of Scotland, is thriving for the Premier League leaders.
"I'm very thankful to the gaffer, he's shown a lot of faith in me ever since I came," said Silva. "That faith is very important for a player, even more so as I was changing to a new club, league and country.
I'm very happy here both on and off the field and that's thanks to the players, the boss and the coaching staff."
Mancini returned the compliment. "
Silva is one of best players in Europe and the world at the moment, he has the ability to play for a team like Barcelona or Real Madrid," the manager said "He's improved as a man and a player over the last two years here. I saw him play for the first time many years ago for Valencia versus Inter in the Champions League. He was very young then but you could see he was an incredible player."
However, even with Silva, Mancini's side have just one point from their opening two Group A fixtures, with their 25-year-old forward aware that only a win will do against Villarreal. "It's a very difficult group and we have to get the three points," Silva said. "Whoever doesn't get the win will lose ground and find it very difficult to qualify."
On the disparity between their domestic and European starts, Silva added: "We've only played two matches in the Champions League, which were both against top sides, so we probably need more games to show the same consistency. We've played two tough games and, though we've not had too much luck, we've made things hard for ourselves. Hopefully we can start turning things around tomorrow."
What is more, having faced Villarreal on seven occasions in the Liga, Silva is well placed to assess the threat posed by a side desperate to bounce back from 2-0 defeats by FC Bayern München and SSC Napoli. "Villarreal are a great team," he said.
"They like to keep possession, they've got very fast players up front and are very dangerous on the counter. We'll have to try to keep the ball as much as we can to avoid being caught on the break."
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