Manchester City’s debut Champions League campaign gets underway on Wednesday when Roberto Mancini’s men play host to Napoli. The English side have drawn a relatively tough group with Bayern Munich and Villarreal also in Group A.
Despite the tough group, City will be confident of successfully navigating their route to the Second Round after enjoying a breathtaking start to the Premier League. Mancini’s side have won all four of their Premier League matches so far, scoring 15 goals.
Manchester City received some criticism last season after displaying negative tactics against the league’s better teams, but conservatism has been forgotten about by Mancini this term. City beat Swansea 4-0 on the opening weekend, with £38m signing Sergio Aguero grabbing a brace, and the Manchester side then beat Bolton 3-2.
The Manchester club’s most impressive performance was beating Spurs 5-1 away. Edin Dzeko was the star performer and scored four well-taken goals. The strength in depth was then shown against Wigan, as Dzeko was rested and Aguero scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 victory over Wigan.
City boast a multitude of attacking riches. Aguero and Dzeko have both already scored six league goals, while the out-of-form Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli offer more firepower from the bench. The strikers are backed up by David Silva and Samir Nasri, while Yaya Toure and James Milner have shown an eye for goal in previous seasons.
The defence, led by Vincent Kompany, is still rock solid, while Joe Hart is one of the Premier league’s best keepers.
Napoli have enjoyed a renaissance in recent seasons. The Naples club were declared bankrupt in 2004 and had to be re-established. The club re-entered the Italian league in Serie C1 and began their climb towards the top league.
Walter Mazzarri took control of the side in October 2009 and since then the ascent towards the upper echelons of Italian football has been swift. Napoli qualified for the Europa league in Mazzarri’s first campaign before qualifying for the Champions League last season.
Walter Mazzarri’s men spent most of an impressive 2010/11 campaign in second place in Serie A before eventually finishing third and grabbing automatic qualification to this season’s Champions League.
Napoli have only played one game this season due to the first day strike in Serie A, but the Naples club got their league campaign off to a good start with a 3-1 victory away to Cesena on Saturday.
Napoli were aggressive in the summer transfer window, spending an estimated €58m. The marquee signing was Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, who cost €16m from Palermo. Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler signed for €15m from Udinese and should form a quality partnership with talented playmaker Marek Hamsik.
The current Napoli squad boast considerable firepower, with Uruguayan Edinson Cavani and Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi being two of the most sought after forwards during the summer. On loan Goran Pandev struggled for goals at Inter Milan last season, but the Macedonian striker did score the goal that knocked Bayern Munich out of the Champions League.
With a host of attacking options, Napoli could cause Manchester City’s normally watertight backline some problems. Meanwhile, Morgan De Sanctis is a capable goalkeeper and the defence is well marshalled by captain Paolo Cannavaro.
Napoli have the talent to trouble Manchester City, but Mancini’s men should have enough to win their first Champions League encounter.