Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola places Champions League opponents Napoli in Europe's top three

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City will face one of the three best footballing sides in Europe in this season's Champions League.

City's seventh successive campaign in the elite competition will feature group games against Shakhtar Donetsk, Napoli and Feyenoord.

A general opinion is that the draw could have been tougher but Guardiola is expecting some difficult competition, particularly from Italian outfit Napoli.

The City manager said: "When the (team from the) third pot is Napoli - the best team in that pot - it is complicated.

"In the Champions League we expect pots one and two will be strong but here all the teams are strong.

"We're going to face the team who played the best football in Italy. I'm not talking about winning - I like to watch the teams who want to play - and in Italy, where the culture is defensive in the box, they play 40 metres in front. With the ball they are fantastic.

"For me, they are one of the three best teams right now in Europe playing football.

"And of course the other ones we are going to see. The Champions League is always complicated. Everyone can beat you home and away."

While that competition will not begin until next month, City's immediate thoughts are on Saturday's Premier League trip to Bournemouth.

City will be looking to get back to winning ways after being held to a draw by Everton on Monday.

The Cherries have lost both their league games so far but Guardiola is wary of Eddie Howe's side.

Guardiola said: "Bournemouth can play the football they want to play. The manager is so good like that. They had a fantastic season last season.

"They started with two defeats but sometimes that can happen. It is just in the beginning. I know it will be very complicated."

Despite spending more than £200million over the summer, City remain on the lookout for further signings before next Thursday's transfer deadline while some players surplus to requirements could leave.

It remains to be seen whether City approach West Brom again regarding defender Jonny Evans having had a previous bid rejected.

Rumours also continue to link City with Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, although director of football Txiki Begiristain has publicly distanced the club from reports concerning Barcelona star Lionel Messi and hotly-rated Monaco youngster Kylian Mbappe.

Guardiola said: "I'm happy with the squad I have, (but) we're going to see. We have five or six days left, and I think the market is going to move until the last moments, and the guys here are going to leave and maybe come, because all the managers at the other clubs are (trying) in the last seconds to make the transfers cheaper."

Asked about Messi and Mbappe at a press conference, Guardiola said: "Those players are players for Monaco and Barcelona. My dream is for one of them to stay his career in Barcelona and the other is a young talent. He will decide. Txiki was clear. I don't have anything more to say."

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