Walter Mazzarri tips Juventus as the favourites to beat Napoli on Sunday and notes Antonio Conte “reminds me of my youth.”
The Coach gave an exclusive interview to Tuttosport ahead of tomorrow night's Stadio San Paolo showdown.
“We hope to recover the physical energy necessary to face Juventus, who at this moment are the most organised side in Serie A. The past years don't count, as historically Juve have always challenged for the Scudetto.
“The directors have invested well and Conte is an excellent tactician. At this moment they are certainly the favourites, including against us tomorrow. I see other teams in the running too, as it's too early to give a definitive opinion on the candidates for the Scudetto. All I ask from my men is to be a little more clinical than in recent outings.”
The Bianconeri have an advantage in that they do not have European commitments, while Napoli are fresh from a 3-2 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
“Andrea Pirlo explained a while back how much energy the Champions League takes away from you. We have lost many times without deserving to, while in others we didn't play as well and still got the result.
“It's not that we prefer the Champions League, but after having done so much to earn this opportunity, we can't go around embarrassing ourselves. It is our duty to play it well.
“I'm proud to have brought Napoli back to the Champions League after so many years.”
Mazzarri almost walked away from the San Paolo over the summer, as he had reportedly been offered the Juventus job.
“I simply felt the need to sit down with the President and discuss certain aspects of the season we were going into. Everything went well,” insisted the Coach.
“I didn't think of anything else, so Conte absolutely did not take my place. In fact, Conte reminds me of my youth, but with even more temperament.
“In today's football you need Coaches like this who keep the team on their toes at all times.”