Gennaro Gattuso wanted to focus on the task in hand against Brescia on Friday and has claimed Napoli will “think about Barcelona on Saturday”.
The Champions League has returned and there’s already talk about the match against Barcelona in the last 16, but the coach wants to remain concentrated on a “bitter” opponent in Lombardy.
“Tomorrow it’s Friday, there will be time to think about Tuesday,” Gattuso said at a press conference. “The priority is tomorrow’s game. The best team will play, the ones who are 100 per cent.
“We have lost 20 points to the ‘smaller teams’, hands on. Tomorrow will be the same game as against Cagliari. We will meet a team that are bitter.
“After half an hour I heard talk about Napoli, after the defeat to Juventus, that they want to feel their strong stadium. We will face a team and an environment that will put us in difficulty.
“It will be a similar game to the one against Cagliari. I don’t know how they will play tomorrow, what formation they will pick, but they’re a team that always leaves two or three players up front.
“You have to be careful and not make any presumptions. The three up front don’t work so much defensively and could give us problems. It won’t be easy. They also play on the second balls, they always have three or four players to fill up the box.”
Allan, Arkadiusz Milik and Hirving Lozano are among the players picked to play in Brescia but Gattuso has revealed that the latter might not start.
Gattuso also denied that he has a problem with the Brazilian midfielder Allan, as well as giving an update about Faouzi Ghoulam’s progress.
“We have worked well. Lozano is not 100 per cent,” he said. “With Allan everything is OK, I said immediately that I don’t hold grudges. He has trained very well. Milik is better and has done what he needed to do.
“[Ghoulam] is working with continuity. He has been out for a while; I hope to see him as I have seen him in these two weeks. He lacks a little bit, but he is giving continuity in training and that’s important.”
“Allan is a player like everyone else and I demand the utmost commitment from them. We looked each other in the eye, and I can’t hold any grudges in my job. I saw a great professional who immediately made himself available to the team, helping and being helped.”
Gattuso said it’s possible for his players to forget about the upcoming match against the Blaugrana and only focus on the game against Brescia.
But he added that he would rather take Napoli to the Europa League than knock out Barcelona from the Champions League.
“I did. I only suffered when I played after Juventus and watched the table, without being able to score. I never thought about the game that came three days after,” he said. “I never thought about the next one, I thought about it later.
“But when I played after the teams that were on equal points with us, I looked at the table.
“I would take Europa League every day [over a quarter-final in the Champions League]. Don’t you believe it? There are 14 games left, you will have to win a lot.
“I haven’t heard anyone talk about Barcelona. We haven’t prepared for Barcelona yet. We have prepared for the match against Brescia. We will think about Barcelona on Saturday after the analysis of the match against Brescia.
“We have to talk about [Mario] Balotelli, [Diego] Lopez, Brescia. We can’t think we have to play against [Lionel] Messi.
“I feel that the players are very motivated, I didn’t hear anyone talk about anything else than the match against Brescia.”
Napoli have lost six home games in Serie A and only won four in 12 attempts at the San Paolo this campaign, but Gattuso insists that it’s only a matter of “mentality”.
“I always prefer to play at home. It’s a question of mentality. You could say that we need to do something different at home, but the problem is that we have to smell the danger first,” he said. “In many games at home, we have played an open game, without smelling the danger, making tactical mistakes. That’s the problem.”
Gattuso was not sure if Kalidou Koulibaly would be ready to play against Brescia tomorrow and said he will evaluate ahead of the match.
“We must first see what he has to offer, then listen to his feelings,” Gattuso admitted. “Both I and the staff preferred that he stopped for ten days, then we will evaluate how he will feel physically. He knows best and he will tell us how he feels.”
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