Real Madrid v Man City preview
Manchester City launch a second stab at Champions League success on Tuesday and first encounters do not get much tougher than Real Madrid.
By Rachel Griffiths - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsRachG
Last Updated: 18/09/12 12:43pm
Manchester City will launch a second stab at UEFA Champions League success on Tuesday night and first encounters do not get much tougher than taking on nine-time winners Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
City's maiden adventure into Champions League football last season was one they will be keen to put behind them, with Carlos Tevez's infamous row with manager Roberto Mancini overshadowing a campaign which saw the club fail to progress past the group stage.
This year, however, Mancini's men have a Premier League title under their belts and are likely to take on Europe with renewed confidence and a desire to add even more silverware to their newly replenished trophy cabinet.
Having steamrollered their way to success over the last couple of seasons, the next obvious step in City's quest for dominance is European glory, but last month's group stage draw dealt the club the trickiest path to the knockout rounds of all the British clubs competing on the continent.
Group D, irrefutably this season's 'Group of Death', has seen City pitted against three other champions of their respective leagues, with Tuesday's Bernabeu clash throwing Mancini's men in at the deep end of a pool which also includes last term's Bundesliga winners Borussia Dortmund and Eredivisie champions Ajax.
After failing to escape a similarly tough group which featured Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal last season, questions have been raised over whether European success will be a step too far the Premier League champions this term.
But Italian manager Mancini, who has overseen a steady start to City's domestic campaign, set his sights high this week when he declared them capable of lifting the trophy, boldly stating: "If you drive a Ferrari you can win. We used to drive a Fiat or Cinquecento (at previous club Inter) and it is not so easy. But now we drive a Ferrari."
Another figure who is confident City will conquer Europe at some point in the future is Real boss Jose Mourinho, who, speaking ahead of Tuesday's encounter, admitted it is inevitable they will land the prize "sooner or later".
As for Mourinho's side, the new Primera Liga campaign has run far from smoothly for Los Blancos, with just four points from their opening four games leaving them 12th in the early standings and prompting the Portuguese boss to question the commitment of some of his players.
Real will hope their experience on the continent - with the club playing in the Champions League for the 16th consecutive season - and the advantage of a home crowd will give them the edge as they bid to ignite their season when they meet City for the first time.City boss Mancini will be boosted by the news star striker Sergio Aguero could play some part after a month out with a knee injury.
Midfielder Gareth Barry (abdominal) is also in contention after appearing for the first time this season as a substitute in Saturday's Premier League draw at Stoke.
Right-back Micah Richards (ankle) remains sidelined and centre-back Kolo Toure has not been registered for the competition.Mourinho has a fully-fit squad at his disposal for the encounter, with new-boys Michael Essien and Luka Modric both named in his squad.
The only absentee is young striker Alvaro Morata, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain in contention to lead the line.
Despite Real suffering a 1-0 defeat by Sevilla at the weekend, Mourinho has said he does not intend to make major changes to his starting XI.