Man City 'by far' the strongest team in Europe - Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri
MANCHESTER -- Maurizio Sarri claims Manchester City are the strongest team in Europe and says he is more worried than when he faced eventual winners Real Madrid in the Champions League last season.
Napoli face Pep Guardiola's side on Tuesday night at the Etihad Stadium and coach Sarri claims his side are fighting Group F rivals Shakhtar Donetsk and Feyenoord for second place.
His side have won every game in Serie A to top the league in Italy just as City do in England, but the Italian claims he had decided not to watch too many of their games because he would find it too depressing ahead of their clash.
"The feeling I get watching Man City play, I didn't even get watching Real Madrid last year. I always felt my team could give opponents a hard time, but this time I think Man City are a formidable team," he told a news conference.
"But if we want to play at a certain level, we have to do it in important matches and aim at achieving results."
Asked about preparing for the game, Sarri said: "I watched a few matches. I didn't want to watch all of them because I didn't want to get depressed. I think Man City are by far the strongest team in Europe at the moment.
"I think Manchester City will win the group so the results in the other games will be important for us."
Guardiola has been very complimentary of Napoli, describing them as on one of the three best attacking teams in Europe, although their club president Aurelio De Laurentiis claims it could be mind games from the Catalan.
Sarri was more grateful for the comments and, despite his fears over the game, he says he won't change their gameplan that has led them to the top of Serie A.
"I would like to thank Pep Guardiola because he said lots of nice things about us. His compliments are very welcome because at the moment he is the strongest manager in the world," Sarri said.
"Twenty-five years ago, Arrigo Sacchi was a pioneer and in a few years time we will see that Guardiola was equally influential, so if Guardiola compliments us, we are very happy.
"I would like to die a sudden death if I have to, not a painful slow death. When you play a tactically, savvy team and gifted team like Man City, who are well-prepared from a physical point of view, they are fast, quick and focused, you have to be careful not to overthink things.
"We have to focus on our game. They could be superior to us on the pitch. From the technical point of view and speed they might be slightly better. If it was possible to beat teams just by changing tactics, there would be no legendary teams. All I am asking us is not to be fearful, to respect our opponents but not to fear them."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.