Pep Guardiola was in an ominous mood before Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Napoli on Wednesday night.
'Tomorrow we have a big, big challenge,' he told reporters. 'There will be moments to defend, moments when we are going to suffer like never before.’
It is not a notion City’s players are familiar with but the Spaniard is all too aware that, for the first time this season, his side come up against an attacking outfit as destructive as the one at his own disposal.
Dries Mertens has been the focal point of Napoli's scintillating attack this season in Serie A
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has acknowledged that his side could suffer in Naples
Maurizio Sarri’s side sit top of Serie A, unbeaten and having scored 32 goals in the process. Second-placed Inter are the only visitors to have shut them out this season at the Stadio San Paolo. The others have all conceded at least three.
Spearheading that threat will be Dries Mertens. The diminutive Belgian is the man Guardiola will fear can halt the City express.
His strike against Sassuolo on Sunday was his 12th in 16 appearances across all competitions this season. Not bad for a striker who stumbled across his position only a year ago thanks to the potent mix of an injury crisis and a manager’s hunch.
Mertens was originally joined Napoli from PSV in 2013 as a left winger, charged with providing the ammunition for out-and-out goalscorer Gonzalo Higuain.
His ability to chip in with a goal never went unnoticed,