Tuesday February 25 2020
Giuntoli: 'Gattuso is Napoli leader'

Director of sport Cristiano Giuntoli credits “leader” Gennaro Gattuso with making Napoli more suited to the characteristics of the players as they host Barcelona.

The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 kicks off at the Stadio San Paolo at 20.00 GMT.

You can check the line-ups and action as it happens on the LIVEBLOG.

This is the first time Lionel Messi has ever played at the San Paolo, the ‘home’ of Diego Armando Maradona.

“There was only one extra-terrestrial, Diego, while Messi is the greatest of the last decade. It’s also right to remember Pele, of course,” the director of sport told Sky Sport Italia.

“Napoli are certainly very concentrated and want to continue the top level group phase of the Champions League, so intend to put in a performance of the highest level.”

This is Gattuso’s Champions League debut as a coach, as Carlo Ancelotti was sacked just hours after the final group game.

“Rino has given consistency and balance to this team, increasing both the passing and possession statistics, as well as being a little more aggressive in the press from the start.

“Gattuso brings more balance, a tactical system more suited to many of these players and the chance to play out from the back with ball to feet, which is something they enjoy and appreciate.

“When a team gets certain results and remarkable peaks, followed by surprising troughs, that is irritating. Unfortunately, this season the team has not been consistent for any length of time and we hope that can change in the final months.

“Gattuso has been a real leader, set the parameters, made it clear that those who follow him can go forward, those who don’t can sit it out.”

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