Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri has warned his players to not believe the hype ahead of their Chelsea encounter. “We’re not favourites.”
The Italian outfit are being tipped to cause an upset in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie at the San Paolo tomorrow.
Mazzarri, though, is expecting a real challenge despite the London club’s present difficulties in England.
“It is funny to know that we are considered as favourites and we are proud of that,” he stated. “However, there will be trouble if we really do believe that we are.
“We know of the difficulties that we will come up against. We can’t make any mistakes and we have to give the best of ourselves.
“The result will only arrive if the side plays to the maximum. I hope to see a mature Napoli tomorrow night.
“We’ll look to limit their game. If I look at their squad then we have to be alert to all of their players. It’s important that we don’t concede.”
Mazzarri himself will have to watch the match from the stands following his dismissal in the final group game at Villarreal.
“Nicolo Frustalupi will be on the bench,” the former Sampdoria tactician added. “He’s a really good Coach and a guarantee. He’s tactically better than me.
“He’ll know what to say to the team in my absence.”
The Azzurri have made some immense progress over recent years, but the tactician is sure his players will be able to handle the pressure.
“My players have impressed me with the way they have grown over the last two seasons. We’ve already tasted new situations and emotions.
“Personally, though, I will prepare the game against Chelsea in the same way that I prepare for a game against Chievo.”
English clubs have haunted Italian outfits in recent years, but the Premiership have only Chelsea and Arsenal left in the competition. The latter lost 4-0 at Milan last week.
“The four English sides who took part in the Champions League are high level teams. A few, like Arsenal, are focusing on youth so it’s only normal that results may not arrive.”
Meanwhile, Mazzarri is counting on the passionate home support to make the difference at the Stadio San Paolo.
“There will be the same inferno which was witnessed against Manchester City. Our fans are the best when they stay close to the team. This will be an advantage for us.”