'Stupid' for surging City to ignore Napoli threat

LONDON • Pep Guardiola has said that Manchester City would be "stupid" to expect an easy outing against Napoli in the Champions League today just because they thumped Stoke City 7-2 in the Premier League over the weekend.

Napoli top the Italian Serie A table with eight wins from as many games but sit third in Group F in the Champions League behind leaders City and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Guardiola's side are unbeaten pacesetters in the English top flight with seven wins from eight games. They showed their might against Stoke but the Spanish manager suggested that Napoli would not crumble under pressure.

"Of course, if they think that, they will be stupid," he told the 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."

Guardiola's side are three points ahead of Napoli but today's encounter at the Etihad Stadium is a mouth-watering prospect because they are the two most prolific teams in Europe's top five leagues.

  • 3.63

    Man City's average goals per game

    3.25

    Napoli's average goals per game

City average 3.625 goals per league game and their rout of Stoke made them the first team to amass 29 goals in the first eight games of an English top-flight season since Everton in 1894.

Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling have each scored seven goals in all competitions and Leroy Sane six, giving City a multi-faceted menace reminiscent of Guardiola's great Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams.

Prior to their 1-0 win at Roma on Saturday, Napoli had scored at least three goals in each of their first seven league games, their tally of 25 goals in those matches establishing a new Serie A scoring record.

The spark for the Napoli revolution was the sale of Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus in July last year.

Belgian winger Dries Mertens was required to reinvent himself as a striker and it proved a stunning success, as he finished last season with 38 goals in all competitions and has continued this term with seven in eight league games. He is supported by Jose Callejon (four goals) and Lorenzo Insigne (three).

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2017, with the headline ''Stupid' for surging City to ignore Napoli threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe