Walter Mazzarri is preparing for the “terrible” Chelsea test. “Napoli have to do something exceptional, but then we’ve been doing that for a while.”
The Partenopei welcome Chelsea to the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday evening in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash.
“Are Napoli the favourites? I don’t agree with that,” Mazzarri told Sky Sport Italia.
“Chelsea will put all their attention on to the Champions League and have players accustomed to these fixtures. It’s going to be a terrible test for us, as you cannot ignore the qualities of our opponents.
“Napoli have to do something exceptional, but then we’ve been doing that for a while.”
Andre Villas-Boas could well be fighting for his job in Naples after disappointing results in the Premier League and today’s 1-1 FA Cup draw with Birmingham City.
“Even if there were problems in the Chelsea locker room, the squad becomes united in certain moments because everyone wants to reach the quarter-finals. Aside from the rapport with their Coach, champions can always make the difference,” continued Mazzarri.
The Napoli boss won’t be on the bench for either of the two legs, as he picked up a two-match ban for shoving time-wasting Nilmar during the 2-0 win at Villarreal.
“This is an ugly side to the game for me, as the verdict was wrong. I accept it, but it’s still annoying and not just for me, as I could’ve given something more to my players until the 95th minute, as I always do.
“However, I know the lads will give their all. These are games that fire you up regardless, from concentration to adrenaline, but then you have to deal with your opponents.”
Napoli were given a confidence boost by Friday’s 3-0 victory away to Fiorentina, which allowed them to leapfrog Inter in the Serie A table.
“I was not worried even when we were having problems, as I saw the performance was always good and incidents just didn’t go our way.
“I think our defence got back on track because we rediscovered that hint of fear we had of our opponents. We’d lost it recently, perhaps after playing in the Champions League and then going to face smaller Serie A sides straight after, but now I see we’re more attentive.”