UEFA Europa League


Gennaro Gattuso has warned his team they will need to be at their best if they are to get a result against AZ Alkmaar in Holland on Thursday night.

“We’ll need a big performance” said Gattuso, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the Europa League Matchday 5 clash. “We’re up against at tricky side with pace and technical ability – if you give them space they can cause you problems, as we’ve found out. AZ are a young, well-organised team so we’ll need to play at a high tempo. They have physicality as well as quality so we need to match that.”

Gattuso looked back on the 1-0 defeat Napoli suffered at the hands of AZ in the first game in Group F.

“In the home game we had 75% possession but we weren’t clinical enough,” he said. “This time we need to be more incisive if we’re going to get into their area.”

Napoli have won three in the bounce in Europe since that Matchday 1 defeat to the Dutch side, but Gattuso was keen to make sure his team keep their feet on the ground.

“All games are difficult in Europe,” he said. “It’s high-quality football so you need to play well and be motivated for every game. You can’t afford to let your focus slip. You need to be completely concentrated at all times. As I’ve said, it’s going to be a very difficult game for us and we’ll need to be at our best to take a positive result away with us.”

Gattuso also had a few words on the late Diego Maradona.

“I think I already made a comment which sums up what Maradona meant for Naples: he’s more important than San Gennaro for this city,” he said. “Diego is in the soul of the people of Naples. I’m just sad that when I was a kid my dad never took me to see him play at the stadium. I would have loved that.”

(Photo Getty Images)