All the hype surrounding the first meeting between Manchester City and Napoli two weeks ago was more than justified: the two Blues put on a show for 90 minutes in what was undoubtedly the best game of the group stage. City played amazing football in the first half and could be winning 4-0 by halftime, but they gave Napoli a chance to come back. And they did.
The second half was dominated by the Serie A leaders, but the City defense (especially goalkeeper Ederson Moraes) only allowed one goal and Pep Guardiola’s man were able to win their third straight game in the group and arrive in this fixture in a great position to qualify for the knockout stages.
The math is simple: win and you’re guaranteed a place in the Round of 16. But it won’t be easy for City, because Napoli only have three points from their first three games and simply MUST beat the Blues to stay alive in Group F. Both teams love to play football and both really need to win for completely different reasons, so expect a really amazing game. Again.
Date/Time: Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 8:45pm local time, 7:45pm (UK), 8:45pm (Nigeria), 3:45pm ET, 12:45pm PT (USA), 1:15am IST (India, Thursday)
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy
Television: BT Sport 3 (UK), Fox Sports 2 (USA), SuperSport 11 (Nigeria), TSN1 (Canada), SONY TEN 1 (India)
Online streaming: BT Sport Live Streaming (UK), Fox Sports GO, WatchESPN (USA), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
Pep Guardiola has no injury concerns ahead of this one other than the long-term issues with Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy, and thanks to a nice schedule this week (West Brom on Saturday, Napoli on Wednesday, Arsenal on Sunday) Pep will be able to play his strongest team without having to worry about resting players for the weekend.
The team in Naples should be nearly identical to the one that started at the Etihad, with the only probable change being Sergio Agüero in place of either Gabriel Jesus or Raheem Sterling. The City defense will need to do a better job of pressuring Napoli when the Italians have possession, and the attack will need to be efficient to pass and finish in the right moments.
Manchester City (4-3-3)
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Jesus, Agüero, Sané
Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejón, Mertens, Insigne
Once again, this will be a very entertaining match, and this could very well be the first loss of the season for City. But I’m going with a 2-2 draw and another great game.