Next Race Newspaper
Free Bets
My Account

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Man City and Napoli are the standout teams

Lorenzo Insigne (centre) celebrates a goal with his Napoli teammates
1 of 1

Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar have regained control of the Ukrainian Premier Liha but it may well be a while longer before they can be a feared side in the Champions League.

At least Shakhtar are back dining at Europe's top table after last season's qualifying loss to Young Boys. That result which saw them drop into the Europa League where a perfect group-stage performance counted for nothing after a knockout defeat to Celta Vigo.

However, Shakhtar qualified directly this season after finishing 13 points clear of Dynamo Kiev and that dominance was confirmed when the side from Donetsk beat the same opponents in the cup final.

Given the troubles in Donetsk, Shakhtar remain on the road but their move much closer to home in Kharkiv from Lviv to the Metalist Stadium has given them more comforting foundations and the all-Brazilian attacking trio of Marlos, Bernard and Taison behind Argentinian Facundo Ferreyra should be dangerous.

However, Shakhtar can no longer attract the top South American talent and third place is most likely.

Read more

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Manchester City
It was a season of firsts for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

For the first time in his managerial career Guardiola failed to win a trophy. For the first time he failed to finish in the top two of a league championship and for the first time he did not reach the Champions League semi-finals.

All of which will have been a blow to Guardiola's ego and reputation as the world's best coach but it was the last-16 exit to Monaco which highlighted the weaknesses at City, who were fortunate over the two legs to concede only six goals.

So it was no surprise to see Guardiola look for reinforcements in the summer with City twice breaking the world record for defenders with full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy joined at the Etihad by utility man Danilo and goalkeeper Ederson.

Playmaker Bernardo Silva, like Mendy, arrives in Manchester via Monaco and City are England's best chance of Champions League success but their best may still not be good enough.

"With all due respect for Juventus and Roma, I think Napoli are the Italian team who play the best football, in fact the best in Europe."

That was the verdict of Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain following last month's Champions League draw when he went on to call Napoli's coach Maurizio Sarri "extraordinary."

Begiristain was only saying what regular Serie A observers have known for ages but Napoli need to turn plaudits into trophies.

They finished third in Serie A last term despite possessing the best goal difference of plus 55, went out of the Coppa Italia at the semi-final stage and lost an absorbing last-16 Champions League tie to Real Madrid.

Sarri has kept his first-choice 11 together and with no key departures Napoli could well be this season's Champions League dark horses, particularly after easing past Nice 4-0 in their playoff.

Napoli had 16 shots on target over two legs and 43 attempts in total. As Txiki says: Napoli play the best football in Europe.

Read more

Group E

Group G

Group H

The title drought is over - 18 years after Feyenoord's last Eredivisie success they are once again top dogs in Holland but that is unlikely to be worth much in the Champions League.

Home form was the key to Feyenoord's return to former glories, as they won 15 and drew two of their 17 league matches at De Kuip as Giovanni van Bronckhorst's team pipped Europa League finalists Ajax to the title by one point.

However, the Rotterdammers were knocked out of their Europa League group last season and are weaker this time around following some predictable key departures over the summer.

Defenders Terence Kongolo and Rick Karsdorp signed for Monaco and Roma respectively, while winger Eljero Elia headed to Basaksehir. Influential veteran and captain Dirk Kuyt, who scored a hat-trick on the final day to secure the title, also retired.

The Eredivisie standard also seems to be dropping year on year and despite being a famous name of the past, Feyenoord are expected to find it difficult in this kind of company.

Today's top sports betting stories 

Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport

Sarri has kept his first-choice 11 together and with no key departures Napoli could well be this season's Champions League dark horses
E.W. Terms
Sky bet