Roberto Mancini hails Madrid strength
Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini says Gareth Bale’s summer arrival means Real Madrid are even stronger than last season’s team.
Mancini’s Manchester City side lost 3-2 to Jose Mourinho’s Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in last term’s Champions League group stage, a game which possibly signalled the beginning of the end for the Italian’s spell in charge at the Etihad Stadium.
But Mancini said that he felt this season’s Madrid side -- with Bale on the wing and Carlo Ancelotti having replaced Mourinho on the bench -- was an even stronger proposition.
“I believe that Madrid were strong last year and is strong this year,” Mancini said in AS. “Maybe they have improved because Bale has arrived and he is a superb player. They have also changed coach -- Carlo is one of the best in Europe, but we are talking about the best of the best. To play here is always difficult.”
Mancini predicted qualification would be decided in Gala’s last group game at home to Juventus, but that did not mean his side will not give everything against Madrid.
“If we do not play well against Madrid then Juve and Copenhagen will have better chances,” he said. “We are playing the last game at home and we want to win. [Madrid] will be difficult but we will do everything we can. We can beat Juventus."
Madrid are without the competition’s top scorer this season, Cristiano Ronaldo, for the game due to a thigh muscle problem -- something the Turkish side’s Spanish winger Albert Riera feels could boost the visitors.
“That one of the best players in the world is not there can help us, although Real Madrid have players to fill in for anyone,” Riera said in AS. “But it is logical that they will miss him. We have not spoken about his absence, not at all. We talk about ourselves, and how we can do damage to Madrid.”
The ex-Liverpool player said he felt that the 6-1 scoreline from the teams’ first group meeting in September had not been an accurate reflection of that game.
“Sometimes when they seem at their worst, they can score six, so when they are good, maybe not needing to win, they will not have their best game,” Riera said. “The result [in Istanbul] was excessive for me. After the second goal we could not lift it. But the first half was very even.”