Inside the Opposition

Inside the Opposition: City vs. Napoli (Predicted XI, Man to Watch, Opposition View)

After a hard-fought victory against Shakhtar Donetsk in the last group game, Pep Guardiola’s City side now face a double header against Napoli. With the home tie up first, City face a stern test against a side that are flying in Serie A at the moment.

Having won all eight of their league games so far, and scoring 26 in the process, Maurizio Sarri has Napoli playing some of the most exciting football in Europe right now. Having been complimented by Guardiola himself recently, the Citizens boss knows just how tough this game is likely to be.

City sit top of Group F going into the game having been the only team to win both matches. Napoli lost their only game of the season so far in match day one against Shakhtar, and currently sit in third place due to their head-to-head record against the Ukrainian side.

City and Guardiola hope to make it three wins out of three to cement their position at the top of the group before we travel to Naples for the return legs in a few weeks time.

Predicted line-up

As mentioned, Napoli have been in fine form in Serie A so far this season and Sarri’s side are playing some seriously impressive football. The club have deployed the classic 4-3-3 formation in every game they have played so far with a varying number of players.

Former Liverpool man Pepe Reina will line up in goal for the Italian side as one of the mainstays of this Napoli side. The back four will likely be Hysajs, Albiol, Koulibaly and Ghoulam, the latter of which has recently been linked with a move to City with the left-back role in need of strengthening after Benjamin Mendy’s unfortunate, and lengthy, injury.

The midfield three could consist of numerous different options but most likely will see Jorginho, Allan and the ever-present Hamsik provide the link between the defence and devastating attack.

Now, the main feature of this exciting Napoli side, the front three. Having scored 29 goals so far in all competitions, just one less than City, Napoli’s thrilling front three will consist of Callejon, Mertens and Insigne.

Man to watch

Despite having three fantastic attacking players, Dries Mertens stands out as the club’s man to watch for the game at the Etihad on Tuesday night, having just been nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or as part of the 30-man shortlist.

The Belgium frontman started the year strongly having been converted into a striker following an injury to Arkadiusz Milik, and gone on to score 28 goals in 2017. Mertens is the only Napoli player to have made the shortlist and only one of five players nominated from the Serie A, proving just how valuable he is to the Italian side.

Fast, direct and clinical in front of goal, Stones and Otamendi are likely to have their work cut out against the Belgium frontman as he looks to inflict damage on a so far resolute City backline.

A view from the opposition

I spoke to Sempre! SSC Napoli, a popular Napoli podcast, ahead of Tuesday’s clash against the Italian side. Here are their thoughts ahead of the game:

Key man this season

Super difficult to pinpoint one man, but Dries Mertens has to be the guy. Especially with the injury to Milik, Dries has no choice but to continue to be our focal point in attack.

Match Prediction

As an Italian, I try to avoid predictions, but we would be happy with any result in our favour considering Man City’s current form and traveling to the Etihad.

Champions League predictions

Again, I’ll leave the predictions aside, but I think our expectations as fans is to advance to the knock-out round. Anything after that being a bonus.

We spoke in greater detail to Sempre! SSC Napoli about Tuesday’s opponents: Read it here!

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