Balotelli: If we play our best we will beat anyone


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The Independent Football

Mario Balotelli admitted yesterday that he has never faced physical opposition quite like next weekend's FA Cup final opponents Stoke City, but insisted Manchester City's players should take a leaf out of Internazionale's book by not discussing Manchester United, Chelsea or their Wembley opponents and instead concentrating on their own ability to beat those sides.

Balotelli's willingness to engage in a rare discussion of his club reflected his own high spirits as Manchester City enter 10 critical days starting with today's difficult visit to Goodison Park. After some training ground high jinks, in which he and Yaya Touré found themselves drenched by a sprinkler, Balotelli said he believed City's squad were now "almost like the Inter squad" he left behind in Milan. "I think it's really difficult to play against [Stoke]," he said. "But at Inter we always used to say we don't have to think about the other team because if we are good we are going to win."

Mancini declared yesterday his side need "to start to win something" in the next 10 days, with the potential to have a Champions League place tied up after Tuesday's home match with Tottenham. His players seemed relaxed this week, though, with Nigel de Jong the subject of much humour for scoring his first City goal in two and half years last Sunday. The Dutchman received a DVD of his "Greatest Ever Goal" in a "ceremony" in which his team-mates reminded him that his previous goal came in March 2008 at former club Hamburg. They also pointed out that he had been "booked 27 times between the last goal and this one".