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The middle two games of the Champions League group stage are often pivotal in the race to qualify for the next stage. All over Europe’s elite competition, teams have a chance to put one foot in the round of 16 with their second game against a major rival in as many weeks and that’s certainly the case with Man City’s game against Napoli on Wednesday.
Having won all three of their games in Group F to this point, Man City will qualify if they manage to avoid defeat at the Stadio San Paolo. That sounds much easier than it will be in practice. Napoli can count themselves a little unlucky to have lost 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium a fortnight ago. City came in for some criticism for the way that they just about clung on in the closing stages of that match but there is no shame in having to work hard to beat Napoli.
Maurizio Sarri’s men are unbeaten and have won 10 of their 11 games in Serie A. Unfortunately, their form in Europe hasn’t matched their form domestically and defeats to Man City and Shakhtar Donetsk leave them with plenty of work to do to remain in the competition.
The expectation among the Napoli fans is that their supreme home form will carry them through on Wednesday night but will that pressure become a burden against Pep Guardiola’s free scoring Man City side?
Man City 7/5 (Stan James)
Napoli 17/10 (Sportingbet)
Draw 3/1 (William Hill)
After being criticised for a supposed lack of flexibility in his first season in English football, Guardiola is getting nothing but praise this season. Man City are the best team in the Premier League on the results of their first 10 games of the new campaign. Not only are they wonderful on the ball and deadly in front of goal but they’re much improved in defence.
City will need that extra resilience at the back if they are to take their league form and progress further than ever in the Champions League and they’ll definitely need it at the San Paolo. Napoli are unbeaten in four home games against English opposition and have won all but one of their home games in all competitions this season. They’re also used to scoring plenty of goals thanks to a style of football which is every bit as exciting as Man City’s.
This should be one of the most entertaining games of matchday three with goals for both teams. But, in the final reckoning, the lack of pressure on Man City could make all the difference. This is a big test for Guardiola’s side but we think it’s one they can pass at odds of 7/5 with Stan James.
Draw 1-1 @ 13/2 (Winner)
Man City 2-1 @ 9/1 (Bet365)
Napoli 2-1 @ 10/1 (Bet365)
Draw 2-2 @ 11/1 (William Hill)
Man City 1-0 @ 14/1 (Betfred)
Napoli 1-0 @ 14/1 (888Sport)
Three goals was probably the lowest number possible in the first game between these two such was the quality of the attacking play at the Etihad. Yes, the return game game will be a tenser affair but there is no reason to think that it will be any different in respect of attacking football.
Napoli know they need to win the game and will be confident of doing so but any space their attacking intent leaves in defence will be ruthlessly exploited by Man City. That leaves us with some tempting options for a Correct Score bet but the best option may well be to bet on over 3.5 goals which is available at 23/20 with William Hill.
Sergio Aguero 9/2 (888Sport)
Gabriel Jesus 19/4 (888Sport)
Dries Mertens 7/2 (William Hill)
Raheem Sterling 7/1 (William Hill)
Jose Callejon 15/2 (888Sport)
Lorenzo Insigne 8/1 (888Sport)
Leroy Sane 17/2 (888Sport)
Adam Ounas 9/1 (Paddy Power)
Most Premier League teams will never have a player of the quality of Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus but Man City have been using both of their star strikers in the same team this season. Aguero seems to be growing into the role of a mentor for his young Brazilian strike partner without losing any of his own attacking prowess. As for Jesus, the way that he’s taken to life in English football with such speed is nothing short of remarkable.
Napoli will have to make careful plans for dealing with Aguero and Jesus but City have goalscoring threats throughout their team. Leroy Sane (17/2 with 888Sport) and Raheem Sterling (7/1 with William Hill) have both improved since working with Guardiola and they both look like good options in the First Goalscorer market.
From a Napoli perspective, their main man in attack is Dries Mertens. The Belgian has been a revelation since he’s started playing as an out and out striker and if you’re looking for a player from the home team to score first, he’s your man at 7/2 with William Hill.
Man City to win at 7/5 with Stan James
Over 3.5 goals at 23/20 with William Hill