City relish mouth-watering Real clash

Manchester City's rapid rise continues apace as they return to the Champions League with a "mouth-watering" trip to European heavyweights Real Madrid.

Football News: Carlos Tevez.

City tasted the continent's elite competition for the first time last season but it ultimately proved a mere side story in the most memorable campaign of their recent history as they landed a first league title in 44 years.

Coming after the FA Cup success of the year before, that represented the next step in the Eastlands revolution that began with Sheikh Mansour's takeover of the club in 2008.

Now, having put last season's group stage exit down to experience, City will attempt to flex their growing muscle in the Champions League once again.

But to do so, it will have to be done the hard way with a group draw even tougher than last year's Napoli, Bayern Munich and Villarreal assignments.

This time they face Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund, all past winners and last season's top teams in Spain, Holland and Germany respectively - a true champions league.

City first-team coach David Platt said: "For me, any Champions League draw is going to be difficult but if you're going to progress in the competition, you're going to have to do well.

"I think it's a great point for the football club that Manchester City are drawing Real Madrid in the Champions League. I think it's a mouth-watering prospect."

City's maiden Champions League campaign will eternally be remembered for the night in Munich last September when Carlos Tevez infamously did not appear as a substitute.

An almighty row between club and player over whether or not the striker had refused to play erupted and cast a shadow over most of the rest of the season, a significant portion of which Tevez spent in Argentina without permission.

But while City were without Tevez's talent and experience for most of their last European campaign - a factor which may have been critical as they were edged out despite accumulating 10 points - this term could be markedly different.

Tevez, 28, has returned this season with his appetite for City renewed - he is leaner, hungrier and in form.

Mancini said: "Carlos is improved with his behaviour - he worked serious in pre-season, I think he is another player with us."

Another player Mancini believes will get better this season - despite making a remarkable impact since his £38million club record move from Atletico Madrid - is Tevez's countryman Sergio Aguero.

The 24-year-old struck 30 times in his debut season at the Etihad Stadium but Mancini thinks there is still plenty more to come.

Aguero is hoping to play a part at the Bernabeu after recovering from the knee injury suffered against Southampton last month.

When asked if Aguero can get better, Mancini said: "I think so.

"It is difficult to score more than 20 goals in the first season in the Premier League.

"But this year if he is lucky with injuries I think he can score more goals."

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