Laudrup aims to silence Mancini all over again
MICHAEL Laudrup locks horns with Roberto Mancini once again this weekend, 20 years since the pair fought an unforgettable battle at Wembley.
"I read an interview with Mancini's son about a month ago," says Laudrup.
"He said it was one of those games that they do not talk about."
The game in question was the European Cup final of 1992, when Laudrup's Barcelona took on a Sampdoria side captained by Mancini.
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It was an epic contest between giants from Italy and Spain, and it was Barca who won it thanks to an extra-time free-kick from Ronald Koeman.
It was the Catalan club's first European Cup triumph.
"Mancini and (Gianluca) Vialli were the two big stars of Sampdoria, but they had a great team at that time," Laudrup remembers.
"I think in 1989 they played the Cup Winners' Cup final against Barcelona and they lost, although that was before my arrival.
"Then they played another Cup Winners' Cup final (against Anderlecht in 1990) which they won, so they were a great team.
"For us to beat them at Wembley and win the European Cup was very special. Barcelona played in many finals, but to win it meant so much for the people, for the whole region. I still remember the day after, when we came back from Wembley to Barcelona. I think there were a million people on the streets — it was fantastic."
Laudrup is now attempting to plot another victory over Mancini, this time when they square up in the dugouts at the Etihad Stadium this weekend.
The odds are stacked against the Dane this time round, of course, for City have not lost a league game on their own patch since Everton won in Manchester in December 2010.
Mancini had a sparkling playing career, and his time in the dugout is not going too badly either.
As a coach he has won three Serie A titles, four Italian Cups, the FA Cup and last season's Premier League.
"He went very quickly from being a player to a manager and he has worked at some huge clubs," Laudrup adds.
"He did very well at Inter Milan and now he has won the league here as well, and I think last season must have been special for him.
"Everybody thought the title was already Manchester United's and suddenly some results made it possible.
"I remember on the last day of the season I was over from Spain to do some work with Sky on the last round of the Spanish league.
"I heard on the radio that Manchester City were a goal down and then suddenly they got two goals in last minute to win it. That must have been very special."
While Swansea City are already focusing on Saturday's early evening game, City are in Amsterdam for a key European tie with Ajax tonight.
"They play a big game in the Champions League first so it is hard to know what formation and what team they will play against us," Laudrup concedes.
"But whatever team they pick, we know it will be full of good players."