Champions League preview: Manchester City v Napoli

City take on Napoli in the Etihad Stadium’s first ever Champions League game. It promises to be a special night both on and off the pitch with Roberto Mancini’s in-form team taking on an impressive Napoli attack.

One of the few concerns against Wigan on Saturday was the lack of a genuine holding midfield player as both Yaya and Milner frequently left a space between midfield and defence. Mancini is hoping Gareth Barry can return to help fill this gap. There’s no doubt either de Jong or a fully fit Owen Hargreaves would be preferable against European opponents.

There is also talk of a change at full-back. Maybe Zabaleta will come in to keep a closer eye on either Hamsik or Lavezzi.

Cavani is a clear threat though Kompany and Lescott should be able to deal with his physical strength. It’s his movment they will need to be mindful of.

However the reasons for optimism are greater than those for concern. Mancini is likely to return to the attacking quartet of Dzeko, Aguero, Nasri and Silva which destroyed Spurs.

Tevez may well start on the bench but those saying he is no longer required appear a little hasty in writing off the former captain. He’s been a talismanic figure for two seasons and his ability to turn a tight game in our favour will doubtless be needed again.

Napoli have only played one game this season and it will be interesting to see if they are fully up to speed. As fellow debutants in the Champions League there should be no shortage of commitment from the Italian side.

Mancini may well play a tighter game than we have seen recently as the last thing we need is a home defeat in the opening fixture of a difficult group. Having said that there could well be goals at both ends giving the attacking talent on show. Let’s just hope City score the most.

Blue Day’s line-up:

Zabaleta – Kompany – Lescott – Clichy
Y Toure – Barry
Silva – Aguero – Nasri

Prediction: 4-2 to City.

Player ratings: Manchester City v Wigan Athletic
Player ratings: Manchester City v Napoli

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