Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has paid a glowing tribute to Carlos Tevez as the first anniversary of his infamous bust-up with the striker in last season's Champions League draws ever closer.
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Ahead of City's European opener against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, Mancini insists the frosty relationship he had with Tevez is no longer an issue as the duo have found a way to work together.
"I am very happy because Carlos, worked very hard in pre-season this year, his form is better than last a year ago and, also, he wants to play football," Mancini told reporters.
"For a player, it is difficult not to play. Last year, Carlos went six months without a match and this clearly affected what he could do when he returned. Yes he is a top player, but he is only a top player if he wants to play and is ready to be part of this team.
"Carlos for around ten games last season, he scored five or six goals and at no point was he 100%. This is the first time in the last five or six years that he has had a pre-season and for every player that is important. You can see the difference in the levels he is producing."
City's hopes of an upset win at the Bernabeu were boosted by the latest setback to hit Group D opponents Real Madrid in what has been a turbulent start to their season, as they crashed to a shock 1-0 La Liga defeat at Sevilla on Saturday night.
Jose Mourinho's men have now claimed a mere four points from their first three league games and find themselves an imposing eight points behind arch rivals Barcelona.