Man City vs Napoli: Achieving the ultimate goal begins for Mancini
The aim of Manchester City’s Sheikh owners when they began their immense investment in the club was to not just qualify for the Champions League, but win the competition.
Phase one of this plan has successfully been completed and Roberto Mancini will hope that the second part will begin positively when they begin their task of qualifying from Group A by hosting Napoli.
On paper, if any group was worthy of the title of the ‘Group of Death’ then it is this one, with Villarreal and Bayern Munich also hoping to finish in the top two places to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Manchester City’s odds are 2/5 to beat Napoli, which would represent a first ever victory in the top tier of European football following a first-round elimination in their only previous attempt in the 1960s.
Napoli have more in common with Manchester City than a sky blue kit as they are also preparing to return to the Champions League after an extended break.
It is 7/1 that Napoli win in Manchester, but they did lose in England last season when visiting Liverpool in the Europa League.
Much of the focus will be on the strikers, particularly the dual between Argentine rivals Sergio Aguero and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Aguero is the 7/2 favourite in the Champions League odds to score first, with Lavezzi looking a big price at 11/1.
Villarreal have reached at least the quarter finals of the Champions League in their last two appearances and their phenomenal home record in the competition will make life tough for Bayern.
The Yellow Submarines have won their last nine European home games and this makes them attractive at 11/5 to triumph.
However, Bayern could be the darkhorses to win the competition and can leave Spain with a positive result. It is 5/4 that they win, but the 23/10 on the draw looks the most likely outcome.