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United v City: Balotelli exclusive on a derby to savour

Mario Fa Semi action

Mario Fa Semi action

Mario Balotelli can't wait for the derby - and the excited Italian striker reckons that the Manchester showpiece is now bigger than Serie A classic AC Milan versus Inter.

City head for Old Trafford on Sunday as Premier League leaders, having despatched our neighbours in a semi-final thriller at Wembley on the way to winning the FA Cup in May.

Former Inter Milan star Balotelli, back in business after completing his European ban against Villarreal, said: "Maybe now, City v United is better football than Milan v Inter.

"If I was sat at home and could watch one of the two, I think I'd watch United v City. Barca v Madrid is biggest for its history - but soon United v City will be the biggest derby in the world.

"These kind of games are different. The derby in Milan is different to normal Serie A games, and United v City is different. You have to give it everything. I think it will be a lot of fun."

Balotelli played a key role as City's attacking spearhead in April's semi-final triumph, even if the all-important goal came from marauding midfielder Yaya Toure.

He said: "We worked really hard that day. I only had one shot - if I can get two shots this time then maybe I can score.

"I hope I will have the chance to shoot two or three times and if I do, I think I will score. It's important all the team work hard, from the strikers to the keeper, and I think we can beat them.

For me, the derby or the Champions League aren't just games like others. I like the atmosphere


"It's good to feel it with so many supporters, to know they feel the game is important. It changes the way I prepare for the game.

"If you run back for the ball at 100 per cent normally, then for the derby you run at 200 per cent. I will be focused on the game. All that matters is the result. Nothing else."

Mario's joy at the semi-final result didn't go down well with Rio Ferdinand, but he said: "I don't have anything against him. I just celebrated, I showed him the shirt of City.

"He got angry with me. But for me, what happened stayed on the pitch and now we are friends like before. Or we respect each other anyway.

"I'm going to give him the handshake before the game like I give to everyone. He's a great player."

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