Pep Guardiola could label Serie A pacesetters Napoli as "a disaster" but the Manchester City manager would be lying about a team he holds in the highest esteem.
Premier League leaders City take on their Italian counterparts in a mouth-watering Champions League Group F meeting at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Both sides are unbeaten domestically this season, with Napoli's 1-0 win at Roma on Saturday preserving a 100 per cent record, during which time they have plundered 26 goals.
City's 7-2 ransacking of Stoke City at the weekend took them to 29 – the highest amount of goals in the opening eight games for 123 years in the English top flight – but Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has gone against his instincts as a film producer by playing down the blockbuster clash.
The famously outspoken De Laurentiis suggested coach Maurizio Sarri should rest stars such as Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik with an eye on next weekend's top-of-the-table clash with Inter, while he dismissed Guardiola calling Napoli one of the best three footballing sides in Europe as kidology.
"I know, I heard from the president of Napoli in Gazzetta dello Sport that my words are just to distract Napoli but it is just what I believe," a grinning Guardiola told his pre-match news conference in Manchester.
"I believe they are a really good team in all senses, but if the president prefers to hear they are a disaster team I can say that as well."
On whether Napoli would rest players, Guardiola is not holding out much hope.
"Do you believe I believe him [De Laurentiis]? Absolutely not," he said.
"Maybe if he is travelling today with Sarri in the same plane and not on the private jet tomorrow he can ask him.
"I think in the last eight to 10 games they played with the same line-up."
Hey @ManCity... we're on our way
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