Napoli will hope to overturn a 2-1 deficit as they take on Manchester City at the Stadio San Paolo on Wednesday evening on matchday four of the Champions League.
The Partenopei were expected to fight it out with the Sky Blues for top spot in their quartet, but are currently in third spot. That’s due to a shock loss to Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk, which has left Maurizio Sarri’s men with quite a bit of work to do halfway through their group stage campaign. Some have started to wonder if the current Serie A leaders have already decided to forego the Champions League and throw all their efforts into the Scudetto race, especially as realistically Napoli don’t have much of a shot of actually winning the Champions League anyway whereas the Scudetto is a much more attainable proposition at this stage for the club.
By contrast, Manchester City, who have picked up a full nine points so far, made it to the final four during the 2015/2016 term, which was their best ever showing in the competition. Whilst they’re not yet viewed at the same level as the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid, City are still regarded at a higher level than Napoli and are viewed as having a much better chance to go deeper in this tournament than the Partenopei simply due to their overall squad depth and general stronger side.
Napoli have won just one of their last five Champions League games, whilst losing the other four. Manchester City, by contrast, have lost just one in their last ten, and that was against Barcelona, whilst winning six and drawing three. Furthermore, as noted before, Pep Guardiola’s men have won all three of their three matches thus far. Here’s an interesting stat: On the 42 prior occasions this has happened, every single team has managed to progress to the round of 16.
So, for all intents and purposes, City pretty much have already booked their spot in the next round, or so it seems. That being said, they have a poor record in Italy, with just one in their last six. Will they be able to overturn that frustrating record and earn their spot in the knockout rounds?