Tuesday February 25 2020
Gattuso: 'Barcelona couldn't hurt Napoli'

Gennaro Gattuso maintains Barcelona “could’ve been there all night and not scored” against Napoli, other than the single defensive error in this 1-1 draw. "They didn't hurt us, they barely tickled."

Dries Mertens had opened the scoring with a curler from the edge of the box, matching Marek Hamsik’s all-time club scoring record of 121 goals, but Antoine Griezmann got the equaliser on 57 minutes.

That was the only genuine shot on target that the Blaugrana had at the Stadio San Paolo, whereas Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was tested on several occasions.

“We could’ve done better on a few counter-attacks, but the team did what we had to do. We allowed them very few opportunities,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“I am a little disappointed that we didn’t create more playing out from the back and in possession, but a little fatigue can happen when you work so hard throughout. Unfortunately, you can’t make a single mistake against Barcelona.

“Naturally, qualification is wide open, we will have time to prepare for the second leg and know they will be missing Sergop Busquets and Arturo Vidal, as they’ll be suspended.

“It’s our duty to go there and play for qualification. Napoli have many strong players, Barcelona have something more, but if we play with focus then we can have our chances.”

Griezmann’s goal was the only shot on target for Barcelona, as David Ospina didn’t make a single real save.

“The error on the goal we conceded was Mario Rui broke the defensive line and Maksimovic was meant to get back there, but instead we didn’t time it well and left a gap.

“In possession, we tended to win back the ball and then get it back to where we started from, whereas we should’ve pushed it forward or across to the other flank.

“If you are in the right position, Barcelona can press all they like and it won’t make a difference. It’s true that having Messi running at you can cause problems, but we still missed something in terms of quality this evening.”

Gattuso was asked if the Napoli plan had always been to defend on the edge of their own area or did Barcelona force them into that position?

“Since Setien arrived, they systematically push five or six players into attack, they don’t just pass and that’s it. They force you to defend deep and we had to play like that, because if there were spaces back there, they could really hurt us.

“I think they barely grazed us tonight, they hardly had a single shot on goal. They could’ve been there all night and not scored, but we conceded after one single error. They didn't hurt us, it barely tickled."

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