Diego Maradona wants Napoli to “surprise” Barcelona at the San Paolo tonight and hopes Lionel Messi “doesn’t have a big game” in his old home.
The former hero spoke ahead of the big match between the Partenopei and the Blaugrana in the last 16 of the Champions League and he admits that “it won’t be easy” for his beloved former club.
“Napoli are going through a complicated campaign, they are experiencing their most difficult season in 15 years of [President Aurelio] De Laurentiis,” El Pibe de Oro told Il Mattino newspaper.
“Gattuso is proving to be a great man for the dressing room.
“But there’s a new era that they need to open up again and it won’t be easy. The match against Barcelona will be very tough, but in football the predictions can be reversed.
“So, my hope is that Napoli will be a big surprise and make their people happy.”
Maradona has admitted that he hopes Messi will have an off day in Naples and doesn’t want to talk about the comparisons made between himself and the current Argentine talisman.
“I hope he doesn’t have a big game in Naples,” he added. “And what are these comparisons they have been doing for 20 years now worth?
“I have a great memory of Leo from my time at Argentina, it was fun to watch him in training and during the games.”
After a strange week at the Blaugrana, the Argentine has been linked with a move away from the club this summer, but Maradona doesn’t see any possibilities of a move away from Camp Nou.
“Barcelona is the natural habitat for Leo. He started there, and he will end it there.”