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The Italian is backing the Premier League leaders against Real Madrid in the hope that continual European distractions will hand his side an advantage domestically

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says he will be supporting Manchester United against Real Madrid in the Champions League, but only in the hope it gives his own club a greater advantage in the Premier League title race.

City's own run in the competition ended prematurely for the second season on the trot after finishing bottom of their group having failed to win a single game.

But Mancini feels his side can profit in the title race if Sir Alex Ferguson's men continue to progress through the Champions League's latter stages.

"It is normal when you play against Real Madrid in the Champions League you can lose your strength," Mancini told reporters.

"So I support Manchester United to go through in the Champions League."

City currently lie nine points behind the league leaders with 13 games remaining, but having overturned an eight-point gap last term Mancini feels there is still all to play for on the domestic front.

"Manchester United have done better than us this season because they won a lot of games," said Mancini.

"They have nine points more than us, but if we can recover eight points in six games, recovering nine in 13 games will be easy. I never remember the title race being finished 10 or 13 games before the end.

"Three years ago Chelsea were nine points behind at one point. By the time they played at Old Trafford two or three games from the end, they were only three points behind. I am sure we have another chance.

"We are unlucky because we lost players in January to the African Nations Cup. But last year no one believed we could win the title and in the end we won. This year could be the same."

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