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Aris faces Manchester City challenge in Europa League

Aris will be looking to protect a proud home record in European competition and Manchester City will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing derby defeat to Manchester Utd when the two teams meet in Thessaloniki in the first leg of their tie in the last 32 of the Europa League on February 15.

Man.City, the richest soccer club in the world, went down 2-1 to a spectacular Wayne Rooney goal in the Premier League on February 12, but Mancini believes the game against Aris gives his players a perfect opportunity to put the defeat behind them.

“It’s very important that we bounce back,» Mancini said. «I don’t think we will have a problem mentally, but when you have played so well away from home, when you think you have deserved to win but you lose, it can be very hard.

«It’s important for us that we have a game so quickly and we need to go on a run now.”

City is clear favorite to win the game even though Aris is unbeaten in 24 European games at home over the past 40 years and beat Atletico Madrid home and away this season.

Despite having a much stronger squad, Mancini has some injury problems to contend with. Winger James Milner is missing with a hamstring injury and midfielder Nigel de Jong is still unfit. Striker Mario Balotelli is also deemed not ready to play as he has been out since December 28 with a knee injury. Winger Shaun Wright-Phillips is in line to start.

City will encounter a familiar face in Thessaloniki as Aris’s recent acquisition, Nery Castillo, was on loan at the Premier League club in 2007/8.

He famously paid half of the loan fee himself to join the Premier League side, which was then managed by Sven Goran Eriksson.

Aris coach Yiannis Michalitsos said the game against Man.City is a major challenge for his club.

“We both want to maintain our unbeaten home record and to face a challenge such as the match with Manchester City,» he said.

“This certainly is a match of great significance. Fear will not help us beat anyone. This is why we have to do better than usual in this game, as we have done in all our European matches,» the Greek coach added.

Michalitsos will be happy to welcome back Greece goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis to his squad for the game that kicks off at 7 p.m. Aris has no other major injury concerns ahead of the game.

Thessaloniki police arrested three English fans in the city on the eve of the match for alleged drunk behavior.

Some 1,000 Man.City supporters are expected at the game.