Walter Mazzarri warns Napoli not to get ahead of themselves in tomorrow’s Europa League debut despite the squad rotation. “We must respect AIK.”
The Partenopei impressed in the Champions League last season and were unlucky to be eliminated by eventual winners Chelsea, so some see playing in this tournament as a step down for their ambitions.
“I am facing this competition with the usual fire and nothing has changed for me,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“We must respect AIK, as I saw the footage of their games. An old glory of Swedish football like Kurt Hamrin agrees that they are not to be underestimated.”
Yet Mazzarri does admit there will be some squad rotation on Thursday evening at the San Paolo.
“We have a squad with certain players who balance each other out, so that’s not a problem. I am forced to make tough decisions, because our next game is against Catania, who we have always struggled with, then Lazio and Sampdoria who are currently on 100 per cent records. After that it’s PSV and Udinese. The fixture list is not kind.”
It is likely that Lorenzo Insigne will start against AIK with Edu Vargas, who has barely featured since joining in January.
“Vargas? I judge players by their performances and not just their goals. In any case, I hope tomorrow he can find the breakthrough.
“We hope to get past the group phase, first things first, as after that the Europa League becomes almost as important as the Champions League. The teams will come in from that competition to raise the quality level.”
Mazzarri will be in the stands due to a touchline ban, but assures he has “blind faith” in assistant Mario Frustalupi.
Salvatore Aronica is not 100 per cent fit with Miguel Angel Britos injured, so Paolo Cannavaro might have to forego his rest.
Napoli (probable): Rosati; Campagnaro, Fernandez, Gamberini; Mesto, Behrami, Donadel, El Kaddouri, Dossena; Insigne, Vargas
AIK (probable): Turina; Lorentzson, Karlsson, Majstorovic, Johansson; Gustavsson , Daníelsson, Borges, Mutumba; Bangura, Lundberg
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!