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City and Napoli gear up for 'special day'

"To play in the Champions League after many years' waiting makes it a very important and special day" for Manchester City FC, said Roberto Mancini – a sentiment echoed by SSC Napoli.

City and Napoli gear up for 'special day'
City and Napoli gear up for 'special day' ©UEFA.com

Manchester City FC may have been in imperious form in England but manager Roberto Mancini expects "a challenging test" when his side take on fellow group stage debutants SSC Napoli on Wednesday.

Manchester City
Manager Roberto Mancini

It's an exciting day for the club. To play in the Champions League after many years' waiting makes it a very important and special day.

It is Napoli's first match in the Champions League but they've got players like [Edinson] Cavani, [Marek] Hamšík and [Ezequiel] Lavezzi so I don't expect them to just play on the break – I expect them to attack and play great football. Napoli have many very experienced players with a number of established internationals and Walter Mazzarri is also a very experienced manager, so I expect Napoli to be a challenging test.

It's a special moment for me [because my dad's watching], because Napoli were important to me when I was a player and playing our first game in the Champions League against an Italian team also makes it extra special. [My father has] always been my biggest fan and my biggest critic, which is important as when your father says it, you know it's true and it makes you always want to improve.

Weekend result
Saturday: Manchester City 3-0 Wigan Athletic FC
(Agüero 13 63 69)
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Milner, Y Touré (Razak 80); Johnson, Silva, Agüero (Balotelli 72); Tévez (Nasri 61)

• Carlos Tévez missed a first-half penalty but Sergio Agüero took his City tally to six goals in four games with a hat-trick. The Blues have conceded just one goal in their last ten games at the City of Manchester Stadium since the start of March.

Team news
Nigel de Jong has not played since 15 August and will definitely not line up against Napoli. James Milner and Gareth Barry will both have fitness tests on Wednesday morning as they nurse minor injuries; Mario Balotelli is suspended.

Coach Walter Mazzarri
Football is football; it's the same in Italy, England and Spain. I tell my players not to focus too much on the strength of our opponents. We put in some very positive performances last season in Europe against Liverpool and Villarreal and we mustn't forget we finished third in Serie A last season too. We're going to try and cause Manchester City as many problems as possible.

It's a very difficult group and statistically we're not the favourites, in fact we're the underdogs. But this doesn't matter to me, I'm proud to take on this challenge and of the progress we've made. We'll be treating each game like a final and after we've played City and the other teams we'll see where we're really at.

Of course I'm very proud of what we've achieved, I'm very open about that. I live in Naples, so I can see for myself what the feeling is in the city. We've only been back in Serie A for four years and we've got to the stage where we're qualifying directly for the Champions League, so [the coaching] staff are very proud to have been a part of this. Last year our main focus was Serie A, whereas this year I'll be looking to make as few changes as possible because I'll be treating the Champions League with as much importance as Serie A.

Weekend result
Saturday: AC Cesena 1-3 Napoli
(Guana 24; Lavezzi 3, Campagnaro 67, Hamšík 87)
De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica (Pandev 66); Maggio, Inler, Dzemaili, Dossena; Santana (Hamšík 60), Cavani, Lavezzi (Fernández 83)

• Summer signings Gökhan Inler, Blerim Dzemaili and Mario Santana all made their debuts in Cesena, Napoli's first competitive match of the season after a players' strike led to the postponement of the opening round of Serie A games.

Team news
Marco Donadel missed Saturday's game because of right thigh injury sustained in training on 3 September, while Miguel Britos (metatarsal) is out until November. "I don't think any of the players present have problems with injuries, as we've only played one game in the Italian league," said Mazzari.

Match fact
City qualified 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.

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