Walter Mazzarri is overjoyed at the ‘freeze’ on his touchline ban against Chelsea and warns Napoli are “accustomed to astounding people.”
The Partenopei won the first leg 3-1 after qualifying through the toughest group in the Champions League, so they are brimming with confidence ahead of tomorrow night’s match at Stamford Bridge.
“Is it David against Goliath? My players have grown exponentially thanks to playing in competitions like this. Aside from the economic aspects of the two clubs, what counts is the value that a team can bring on to the field. In that sense, we are a European revelation,” said the Coach.
“We are capable of pegging our opponents back into their own half for a good 40 minutes. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but we will certainly play our game. We are accustomed to astounding people and matched Diego Maradona’s Napoli.
“Just being here is a victory for Naples, so if anything else comes of it, that will be a bonus. We’ll therefore try to be relaxed and calm.”
Mazzarri missed the first leg due to a two-match touchline ban, but today it was confirmed the suspension was ‘frozen’ on appeal, so he will be at Stamford Bridge.
“I did hope to have the ban cut and our lawyers focused mainly on having it frozen. It was important to be here along with the team. It was the right option and it went well, though hopefully we can then have it scrapped altogether.
“I don’t know how important it might be for the side to have me on the bench. There is a great sense of unity and reciprocal respect between us, which is what really counts. The players have to play the way they know how.
“We split football into active and passive periods of play. We defend like lions when our opponents have the ball, while we run easily when we’re in possession.”
There’s a change on the Chelsea bench too, as Andre Villas-Boas was sacked after losing at the San Paolo, making way for Roberto Di Matteo.
“Since Di Matteo arrived, Chelsea have won both games. I am in any case convinced that if we play the way we know how, then we can qualify. This is a fascinating tie and open to any result. As a football aesthete I hope to reach the next phase by scoring one or more goals.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!