Roberto Mancini calls for 'perfect' showing against Real Madrid


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The Independent Football

They may have returned to the top of the Premier League table with a first five-goal victory of the campaign but Roberto Mancini has demanded his Manchester City side must improve if they are to beat Real Madrid.

With just two points from their four Champions League matches, Mancini concedes the only reason his team are still in with a chance of progressing to the knock-out phase is that football is "strange like goalkeepers".

But there was symbolism in Carlos Tevez celebrating City's third goal by sitting down and pretending to turn a steering wheel to make light of his car being impounded due to him not having a valid licence last week.

It suggested that nothing anyone says about three-man defences, Mario Balotelli, Monaco or mutinies seems to matter when you are thumping teams with a fluidity that harked back to the swagger of last season's title win.

By contrast, Europe has again been chastening for Mancini (above) whose side led 2-1 in their opening game in the Bernabeu with five minutes left only to lose 3-2, and they must beat Real and then win in Dortmund to stand any chance of progressing from the group for the first time.

The task was underlined further by José Mourinho's Real matching City's feat with a 5-1 win over Atletico Bilbao on Saturday night.

"They are one of the best teams in the world. To beat them we will have to give a perfect performance," Mancini said. "We will have to play even better than we did against Aston Villa, if we are to beat Real. That's what it is going to take.

"They have a big history going back. They've won a lot of Champions Leagues. We need to work a lot to be at their level but I do think we have the players who can beat them. It is possible.

"If you have players who have won World Cups, like (David) Silva – or won everything like Yaya (Touré) – then playing against Real Madrid is the essence of football.

"When you are young and start to play football you think I would love to play against Real Madrid, Barcelona. Big players like the big challenges but we will need perfect concentration for this game."

Saturday's 5-0 win was the first time City have scored more than three goals in a game this season, something they managed five times in the Premier League by this stage a year ago when they looked like an unstoppable train during the opening months of the campaign.

Mancini's strikers had managed just seven league goals between them before last weekend's 2-1 win over Tottenham but that tally now stands at 13, thanks to Sergio Aguero and Tevez scoring twice each against Villa.

After returning from a hamstring problem last weekend, Silva looked to be the creative talent the Premier League has learned to take for granted over the last two years and he prodded the hosts ahead just before the break.

When Andreas Weimann was wrongly penalised for handball, Aguero scored from the penalty spot and Tevez added another penalty before Aguero burst through and thumped a deflected shot past Brad Guzan. Tevez tapped home the fifth from Samir Nasri's cross.

After being left out of the squad for the win over Spurs, Mario Balotelli missed out once again due to a back problem sustained in training on Friday.

"Mario had a problem with his back in training and he said he couldn't play," Mancini added.

"I don't think he was here. I think he was in his bed because he had a problem. If he trains and trains well then he can be part of the squad against Madrid."

What City must do

* Win both remaining group games, against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, along with:

* Ajax winning one or both of their remaining games OR

* Ajax not beating Dortmund this week and drawing with Real

* If Ajax beat Dortmund AND then draw at Real, all four teams will end on eight points – leaving goal difference to decide who qualifies.