Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri believes Manchester City could pose a greater challenge to his Serie A leaders than Real Madrid when the sides meet in the Champions League on Tuesday.
City welcome Napoli to the Etihad Stadium having plundered 29 goals from their opening eight Premier League matches, while Sarri's men boast a 100 per cent record in the Italian top flight, having scored 26 times.
Nevertheless, the former Empoli boss left a pre-match news conference in no doubt over who he views as favourites for the Group F showdown
Napoli lost 6-2 to eventual winners Real Madrid on aggregate in the round of 16 last season but Sarri suggested Pep Guardiola's in-form team could represent an even tougher opponent.
"The feeling I get watching Manchester City play, I didn't even get watching Real Madrid last year," he said, with Napoli three points shy of City heading into matchday three on account of their group-opening defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk.
"I always felt my team could give opponents a hard time, but this time I think Man City are a formidable team.
"But if we want to play at a certain level, we have to do it in important matches and aim at achieving results."
In terms of his research on a City side who have scored 17 times in their previous three Premier League home games alone, Sarri joked: "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."
Nevertheless, the 58-year-old – who has progressed from splitting obscure coaching posts in Tuscany with a day job as a banker to the top tier of European football – is unlikely to deviate from his own swashbuckling approach despite the prospect of a City onslaught.
"I would like to die a sudden death if I have to, not a painful slow death," said Sarri, whose pre-match brio provided something of a marker for his players.
"When you play a tactical, savvy and gifted team like Man City, who are well prepared from a physical point of view, 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.
"All I am asking us is not to be fearful, to respect our opponents but not to fear them. Fear paralyses you and prevents you from doing your best.
"I want to see 11 players who believe in themselves. It may be impossible but maybe we have to be a little crazy. If we do not have this crazy belief then what is the point?"
Guardiola warmly praised Sarri's Napoli at his own briefing, as he has done regularly over recent weeks.
The respect is mutual, with Sarri believing his opposite number's enduring influence on the game will be equal to that of Italian coaching great Arrigo Sacchi.
"I would like to thank Pep Guardiola because he said lots of nice things about us," Sarri added.
"His compliments are very welcome because, at the moment, he is the strongest manager in the world.
"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."
|Shaw hopes to have earned FA Cup start|
|Mercado: If I smack Messi, I can´t go back to Argentina!|
|Salah wants Golden Boot to prove Chelsea doubters wrong|
|Chelsea´s Alonso gets three-game ban for Long challenge|
|Atletico clash absolutely vital to Arsenal´s season, admits Wenger|
|CSA wants interim agreement amid negotiations with South Africa players|
|Wenger still confident Wilshere will sign new deal|
|Read and Coles doubts for New Zealand´s France series|
|Paine vows to dial down Australia sledging|
|LeBron James denies he was blindsided by question on Popovich´s wife|
|Guardiola a friend as well as a boss, says Walker|
|Heaton: Europe a realistic possibility for Burnley|
|Late charge for the Golden Boot! - Smalling jokes about goalscoring form|
|Grand slams, walk-off hits highlight Blue Jays and Red Sox wins|
|Emery unsure when PSG star Neymar will return|
|Broncos boss Bennett walks out on press conference amid Bellamy speculation|
|Chiefs, Rams to play in Mexico City on November 19|
|LeBron James helps Cavs even series, Rockets rout T-Wolves|
|Marcelo backs Ronaldo to extend scoring run for Madrid|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Libertad preserve 100 per cent record, Corinthians stay unbeaten|
|Man United should have 10 more points – Mourinho laments inconsistency|
|Gombau sacked by Western Sydney Wanderers|
|Wife of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dies|
|Rafael: Van Gaal told me I could leave United after one-minute meeting|
|Klopp told Liverpool they could train naked because of Salah|
|Jazz star Mitchell to play game two against Thunder|
|Twins place Byron Buxton on 10-day DL with migraines|
|Zidane denies Bale problems, defends Benzema|
|Sarri: Napoli won´t change approach against Serie A rivals Juve|
|PSG will respect Les Herbiers, assures Emery|
|Chelsea boss Conte: It´s easier for Dyche at Burnley|
|It will be a great game - Allegri prepared for title showdown with Napoli|
|Pacquiao: Matthysse fight won´t be my last|
|Maybe it is my fault - Gattuso takes responsibility for AC Milan´s winless run|
|Kovac insists Frankfurt are united amid Bayern row|
|Not a single doubt for Madrid ahead of Bayern clash, claims Lucas|
|Gronkowski purchases stake in Kentucky Derby horse named after him|
|I was low and depressed - Hull KR centre Minns fails drugs test|
|LeBron wishes Cavaliers were better prepared for postseason|
|Sixers´ Joel Embiid doubtful for game three against Miami|
|Real Madrid 1 Athletic Bilbao 1: Kepa heroics torment Madrid until Ronaldo leveller|
|Nadal welcomes confidence-building court time|
|Mourinho salutes Pogba display|
|Caen 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3: Mbappe double keeps treble hopes alive|
|Djokovic: I´d have quit if I didn´t believe I could return to top|
|Burnley boss Dyche could manage England, says Heaton|
|Napoli 4 Udinese 2: Scudetto race alive ahead of tantalising Turin trip|
|Torino 1 AC Milan 1: Donnarumma error proves costly|
|Schalke 0 Eintracht Frankfurt 1: Kovac to face Bayern Munich in DFB-Pokal final|
|Crotone 1 Juventus 1: Nwankwo stuns Serie A leaders with spectacular equaliser|
|Bournemouth 0 Manchester United 2: Red Devils bounce back as Mourinho´s changes pay off|
|Canelo hit with six-month suspension|
|Knight Riders join Sunrisers at IPL summit|
|Bong stands by complaint despite Rodriguez racial abuse verdict|
|Martial and Darmian start as Mourinho makes seven Manchester United changes|
|Heaton relishing Burnley battle with Pope|
|Nadal and Djokovic seal Monte Carlo progression|
|Aubameyang ´wasn´t sure´ about Lacazette|
|A mid-season break in England would make a great difference, insists Conte|
|Golovkin to fight Martirosyan in Canelo absence|
|Tottenham trophies would follow FA Cup success - Vertonghen|
|If anyone can beat Real Madrid, it´s Bayern - Rummenigge|
|Barton to take charge at Fleetwood Town|
|Alaphilippe dethrones Valverde in La Fleche Wallonne|
|Nadal blasts past Bedene in Monte Carlo opener|
|Hamilton loses edge when things are not perfect - Rosberg|
|Simeone still hopes Griezmann will stay at Atletico Madrid|
|Aguero will not be 100 per cent for World Cup - Argentina doctor|
|De Bruyne leads new Premier League Playmaker award|
|Djokovic beats Coric on 10th match point to set up Thiem showdown|