Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has set his sights on this weekend’s “special” Manchester derby after making his return from injury in their 3-0 Champions League victory last night over Viktoira Plzen.
The match got underway City’s third European campaign, with manager Manuel Pellegrini determined to put an end to their European suffering after the side failed to make it out of the group stages in the last two seasons under Roberto Mancini.
Goals from Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero gave them the perfect start, and Kompany believes the result has buoyed the squad ahead of the anticipated derby match.
"Until now the derby was not a priority at all but obviously now it is the next game,” said Kompany.
"We will make sure we are in the right condition for the game.
"It is a special game. It is becoming one of the most sought-after fixtures in the world and it is always great to be involved in such games. I never take them for granted."
The team had been criticised by former boss Mark Hughes after he saw his Stoke side hold last season’s Premier League runners-up to a goalless draw. The Potters manager said that he felt they suffered for prioritising the wrong game in the build-up to last weekend’s clash.
Kompany though was clearly relieved that they returned from the Czech Republic with the three points, having failed to pick up a single win in last season’s group – although their opposition of Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax saw them plunged into the notorious “Group of Death”.
The three points were all the more crucial with the visit of reigning champions Bayern Munich next month, and Kompany admits that it a huge relief to get the result under their belt.
"It is a great way to start the Champions League,” Kompany admitted.
"You can't underestimate the result but you can't overestimate it as well. We did our job.
"It is always easier to say it than do it but we did exactly what we came to do.
"I think the first goal was important. We had a couple of good chances to score in the first half but the great thing is we didn't panic.
"We stayed really calm and in the end we have got the players to make the difference. As soon as it came off it was a lot easier for us.
"It was great to see so many fans coming down to the Czech Republic to support us. I think they got what they wanted and what they came for."
But the biggest relief for Pellegrini will have been to see Kompany back and leading the side, with the City captain having missed the last month after picking up a groin injury in the opening victory over Newcastle.
"I was probably more happy than anyone else to be on the pitch,” Kompany explained.
"It feels great. I am really happy to be back with the guys and I work hard every single day to make sure I can play as many games as possible.
"I am also very thankful to the medical staff that gave me such good attention and allowed me to come back in perfect condition.
"I felt in incredible form when I left the team and I have come back in feeling in the same form and that is the most important."
Pellegrini remains hopeful that midfielder David Silva will be fit to return for the derby having picked up a thigh injury, while defenders Gael Clichy and Micah Richards will be assessed in the days leading up to the match. Central defender Martin Demichelis will definitely miss out as he remains on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury.