Saturday August 8 2020
Gattuso: 'Napoli could've really hurt Barca'

Gennaro Gattuso leaves Barcelona with ‘many regrets, because Napoli could really hurt them, but fell asleep for half-an-hour and handed them the tie.’

The 1-1 first leg result at the Stadio San Paolo made it a difficult situation, but above all they went 3-0 down at Camp Nou and were knocked out of the Champions League with a 3-1 result, 4-2 on aggregate.

“There are many regrets, because we had a blackout for half an hour, conceded three ridiculous goals and made some very serious errors during that period,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.

“I saw a team that also put Barcelona under huge pressure. We should’ve scored two goals early, yet we conceded instead. It angers me to concede a goal from a set play. It drives me crazy.

“I always say, we have some strong and talented players, but need to really move forward in terms of mentality, because it’s not good enough.

“If you look at the statistics, it was dominated by Napoli. We had double their shots on goal, had more possession, we broke through their defence very easily.

“You could see Barcelona were really struggling in the second half. I heard people say Barcelona were playing with their reserves, I didn’t see that today, it was a quality squad worth hundreds of millions. We played as a team, but the biggest regret is that we fell asleep for half-an-hour and gifted the tie to Barcelona,” continued the coach.

“Barca didn’t get out of their half in the opening 10 minutes. I saw more than a good performance from Napoli. I am not trying to cause controversy, I am just disappointed, because I saw we could really hurt them. I get the feeling we were up against a Barcelona side that was not in good shape and we handed it to them.

“With a little more determination and a stronger mentality, we could’ve really done damage here. We knew that with tight passing, we could break through the lines and hurt them, but we got the passes wrong. I’m angry because we did these things well in the second half and not enough in the first.

“It’s been seven or eight years since Barcelona had 43-57 per cent at Camp Nou and the visitors twice as many shots on goal, so it annoys me that even with all that, we still couldn’t make the most of it. When you give them an inch, obviously they’re going to take those chances and we didn’t. It hurts.”

Dries Mertens and Hirving Lozano hit the woodwork, while substitute Arkadiusz Milik saw his header ruled offside.

“When Milik came on, we tried to put the crosses in, but before that we tended to keep the ball to ground, reach the by-line and pull it back to feet.”

There was a warm hug on the touchline at the final whistle between Gattuso and Barcelona coach Quique Setien.

“Setien knows I was following his progress for years. We had been in contact before, we’ve been friends for a while, because I think he has some really interesting views of football and we see the sport the same way.”

Gattuso was asked for an opinion on Andrea Pirlo getting the Juventus job as his first managerial role and was typically forthright.

“Well he’s screwed now… That’s the job,” laughed Rino.

“He’s lucky to be starting at Juventus, but this profession is one where a great playing career is not enough. You have to study, to work hard, and you don’t get much sleep.

“Being a player and being a coach is really not the same thing at all. It’s a totally different profession and we can’t learn it just from books, we need to get in there and work hard. It’s a different world.”

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