UEFA Champions League


Napoli's coach Gennaro Gattuso spoke in his pre-match press conference on the eve of the Champions League Round of 16 first leg against Barcelona at the Stadio San Paolo. 

Felix Brych (GER) has been appointed to referee the match. Brych will be joined by assistants Borsh and Lupp, fourth official Osmers and VAR operators Dankert and Fritz.

We need to be positive and show no fear. We’re up against a team that can sometimes feel like it's from another planet. When I was a player and we used to face Barca, it was like they were on another level because they never let you have the ball.

Gattuso acknowledged that Napoli are in for a stern test against the Catalans, but called for his players to rise to the challenge.

We know we’re going to be playing against an extraordinary team tomorrow and we’re well aware that it’s going to be very tough, but that said I don’t want to see any fear from the players. We have maximum respect for Barcelona, but I want us to show no fear and play positively. The most important thing for me is that we continue to play as a team, as we have been recently.

When you play as a team, you know you can give your all, regardless of the opposition. Barcelona are so good that sometimes it feels like they’re playing a different sport, but we need to make sure we dig in when we need to and play our game when we have the chance to.

On Messi: "Messi does things I see my son do on the PlayStation. He’s a top player and his stats will never be repeated. The way he’s conducted his career is an example for kids. He’s been doing unimaginable things for years – the only difference now is that he has a beard! He’s still the best in the world.

On Insigne: “You don’t need me to talk about Lorenzo’s technical ability. I want to emphasise his physical ability and the engine he has on him which allows him to put the running in despite having a bulky physique. I’ve been surprised by his intelligence both on and off the pitch. He works hard for the group and says what he feels.

I’m sure we’ll put in another big performance and rise to the challenge tomorrow, but we need to play as a team and maintain the principles we’ve shown in recent games. On average, Barcelona win the ball back six seconds after they lose it, so there’s a possibility that we’ll be placed under a lot of pressure. That said, there are two sides to the game – offensive and defensive. If we do both right, we can fulfil our potential.

(Photo Getty Images)