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Napoli owner: We should rest key players for City clash

Napoli's owner De Laurentiis (left) believes his side could rest key players such as Mertens, Insigne and Hamsik. Credit: PA

Napoli's owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has suggested the Serie A leaders should rest some of their key players for Tuesday's Champions League clash at Manchester City.

De Laurentiis claims he is also concerned about what effect high praise of Napoli by City manager Pep Guardiola could have on the team.

The game at the Etihad Stadium brings together two sides in outstanding form with City clear at the top of the Premier League and Napoli having maximum points in the Italian competition.

Napoli's next domestic test comes against second-placed Inter Milan on Saturday and De Laurentiis thinks Maurizio Sarri's team selection should be influenced by that.

De Laurentiis told Gazzetta dello Sport: "City? I think that some of our players should sit out this game, with Inter only around the corner and being just as important."

Guardiola said after the Champions League draw was made in August that Napoli were "one of the three best teams right now in Europe playing football".

De Laurentiis wonders whether any mind games could be going on.

He said: "Guardiola's praise? It concerned me. I wouldn't like it if Guardiola's praise resulted in my players losing focus. He's a wily old fox and he knows the quality of his squad, which is remarkable.

"For us, it could also be a game that's almost impossible to win, but we'll wait for them in Naples."


England up to twelfth in FIFA World rankings

England have moved from 15th to 12th in the world rankings. Credit: PA

England and the Republic of Ireland have risen in this month's FIFA's world rankings, while Scotland climbed too despite missing out on World Cup qualification.

England, who qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with wins over Slovenia and Lithuania, climbed three places to 12th in the rankings led by World Cup holders Germany, football's world governing body announced on Monday.

Gareth Southgate's side are now the leading home nation after Wales, who, like Scotland, missed out on the finals, fell a place to 14th.

The Republic, who progressed to the World Cup play-offs, rose eight places to 26th, while Scotland climbed 14 places to 29th despite missing out on a place in Russia 2018 - a result which subsequently saw Gordon Strachan depart as boss.

Northern Ireland fell three places to 23rd despite advancing to the play-offs.

Brazil are second in the rankings and Portugal third, with Argentina fourth, Belgium fifth and Poland sixth in an unchanged top six.

France climbed a place to seventh and Spain returned to the top 10, climbing three places to eighth.

Chile stayed in ninth despite missing out on World Cup qualification and Peru rose into the top 10 for the first time after qualifying for the intercontinental play-off against New Zealand.

FIFA World rankings Top 15

  • Germany
  • Brazil
  • Portugal
  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Poland
  • France
  • Spain
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Switzerland
  • England
  • Colombia
  • Wales
  • Italy
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