Maicon: Bring on the derby
Manchester City defender Maicon has no doubt Sunday’s clash with Manchester United will match any other derby he has experienced for atmosphere.
The Barclays Premier League contest at the Etihad Stadium will be the first meeting between local rivals City and United since Brazilian full-back Maicon joined the Blues from Inter Milan this summer.
With it once again pitting the league’s top two against each other – champions City currently trail leaders United by three points – the game is set to be as intense an affair as ever.
And Maicon, who has played in derbies for Inter against AC Milan and for Cruzeiro against their Belo Horizonte neighbours Atletico Mineiro in Brazil, is expecting something just as feisty as those encounters.
“My strongest memory of the Milan derbies was the day Inter won 4-0 (in 2009-10) and we also won the Champions League in the same season,” he said.
“It was a great game, a great derby, difficult to forget.
“All over the world, the derby is a different game to any other.
“It is a passionate game, whether you are in Manchester, Milan or Brazil, and I am sure Sunday will be just the same.
“I remember playing for Cruzeiro against Atletico Mineiro, at a time when Mineiro were the better team. We won that game, and it changed our whole season for the better.
“This is something that is built into derbies – it can give the team a boost of confidence for the rest of the season.”
Both City and United go into the match having lost their midweek Champions League fixtures, but there was a considerable contrast between the context in each case.
While it made little difference to United, who had already qualified for the last 16 as Group H winners, that they lost 1-0 at home to Cluj on Wednesday, City – already unable to make the knockout rounds of that competition – crashed out of Europe altogether after their 1-0 away loss to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, the Blues finishing bottom of Group D and thus missing out on the consolation of a Europa League spot.
A positive way to look at it for City is that unlike United, they will now not have the distraction of European commitments to contend with as this season’s domestic title race continues.
The City side pushing for the Premier League trophy this time out has been much the same as that which won it last term, although manager Roberto Mancini has made a handful of additions to his squad.
Among those, Maicon has been one to feature prominently of late, starting five of the last six games, and the 31-year-old feels it is vital the new arrivals at City make their contribution.
“We are working for this (the title) every week,” Maicon said.
“The bulk of the team that won the league last year is the same, with only a few players coming into the squad.
“It is up to us to contribute to change the history of this club.”