Football

Guardiola: Napoli can kill us

City boss says their domestic form counts for nothing against Serie A leaders

GROUP F
MANCHESTER CITY NAPOLI

Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City would be "stupid" to expect an easy outing against Napoli in the Champions League tomorrow morning (Singapore time) just because they thumped Stoke City 7-2 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Napoli top the Serie A table with eight wins from as many games and sit third in Group F in the Champions League, behind leaders City and Shakhtar Donetsk after a 2-1 opening loss to the Ukrainian side and a 3-1 win over Feyenoord.

Guardiola's side are unbeaten pace-setters in the English top flight with seven wins from eight games.

They showed their might against Stoke but the Spanish manager suggested Napoli would not crumble under pressure.

"Of course, if they (City players) think that, they will be stupid," Guardiola told British media. "That isn't going to happen.

"I am going to show Napoli to my players - how good they are. Napoli can kill you with high pressing. They are able to press our 'keeper. I'm very happy to have the opportunity to play this kind of game."

City began their European campaign with a 4-0 win over Dutch side Feyenoord and followed it up with a routine 2-0 victory over Shakhtar.

Like Guardiola, Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola also cautioned City's players against complacency, saying that the Italian outfit have been as impressive in the Serie A as City have been in the Premier League.

Playing a brand of football that is aesthetically pleasing as well as deadly effective, Maurizio Sarri's men have thumped in 26 Serie A goals in eight fixtures, and also hold the league's joint-best defensive record of five goals conceded.

In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Il Mattino, Zola said: "Both clubs have their own identity, they are very similar.

"Pep likes playing wider than (Napoli coach Maurizio) Sarri, Napoli make a lot of short passes. It will be an amazing game.

"City have improved technically but it's not going to be an easy game for them. City are the favourites but I wouldn't underestimate Napoli.

"Napoli play the best football in Italy. They deserve to be leaders because they have made some big sacrifices and they are so entertaining to watch.

"I've studied their style, the way they play, I like teams like Napoli, they never waste the ball possession, they play so well in tight spaces and there is no difference between home and away games."

However, this will be a trying week for Napoli, who after the big test against City will host Serie A's second-placed team Inter Milan on Sunday morning (Singapore time).

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis has controversially suggested that the club may rest some of their star players in the match against City in order to give themselves the best chance of a win over Inter, who trail them by two points.

The former film producer told Gazzetta dello Sport: "I think in this match (against City), we need to rest those players who have played more minutes than the other players in order to preserve them.

"The match against Inter is at our door and is equally important."

He also dismissed Guardiola's earlier compliment that the Partenopei are playing the best football in Europe as a form of mind games.

He added: "I don't want Guardiola's compliments distracting our players.

"He is an old fox and knows that the quality of his players is remarkable.

"It could be an impossible match for us to win but (if so) then we will wait for them to come to Naples." - WIRE SERVICES

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