Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: 17 October 2017
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Kick off: 19:45
Manchester City return to Champions League action when they host Napoli on Tuesday evening. City come off another scintilating display in the Premier League – their 7-2 win over Stoke on Saturday kept them atop the table. The game on Tuesday will be their third in this season’s Champions League, and they face their toughest opposition yet.
City put Stoke away effectively enough that the services of Sergio Agüero weren’t required. The Argentine suffered a rib injury in an accident before the international break and we were unsure of when he would be fully recovered. While he may well have made an appearance on the weekend, it speaks to City’s overall level of play as well as squad depth that we didn’t need him. Guardiola could give him a few more days to rest up and I think he’ll be in the line-up against Napoli.
There were no known injuries against Stoke unless Kyle Walker’s knock was worse than expected, and the manager may well go with the same starting line-up – there has been a good solidity and continuity to the team over recent weeks,
Napoli come into the game against City on the back of a 1-0 away win at Roma on the weekend, their 8th Serie A win of the season.
Their only loss so far has come against Shakhtar Donetsk, a 2-1 reverse during the previous matchday. Of all City’s other Champions League group opponents, Napoli will provide the sternest test based on their league form. While Guardiola has warned all involved to be alert to threats posed by Napoli’s attack, I don’t think they can match City’s firepower nor breakdown an imperious defense.
Maurizio Sarri’s team dominated Roma from the start and deserved to take home the 3 points. Their impressive league form belies a few frailties, frailties which a team such as City must expose.
City have looked imperious in recent games. If they can jump on Napoli early on the visitors won’t have the sort of game plan to get back into it. Napoli have serious attacking threats, chiefly Dries Mertens, and City must be switched on from the very start. I think Agüero will be hungry to start, especially on the Champions League stage, and if they click he, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling or Leroy Sané will overrun Napoli.
This will be City’s toughest Champions League game yet, but they have the system and confidence to really send a message to the rest of the teams in the competition. I will go for a 3-1 win to the Cityzens.