Sunday August 21 2011
Mazzarri: 'Napoli earned Barca invite'

Walter Mazzarri says Napoli “earned” the right to play Barcelona on Monday and it can help prepare them for the Champions League.

The Partenopei could meet Barça in the Champions League, but before then will play the Gamper Trophy at the Nou Camp tomorrow evening.

“It is a source of pride and satisfaction that we have been invited by such an important club. It's wonderful for our fans, the players, for me and the club,” said Coach Mazzarri.

“Just the fact we are here to play Barcelona is proof of how far Napoli have come in the last few seasons. Only great clubs can come to play at the Nou Camp, so we earned this match from the most important side in the world.”

Napoli are treating this friendly as a precursor to the new season, which sees them in the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.

“I always said our plan was based on growth. Last season we were in the Europa League and the only Italians to get past the group phase. This time we're going straight into the Champions League through the front door.

“This match against Barcelona represents greater experience and can help train us up to face the next international tests.”

However, Mazzarri certainly does not hope to be back here next month.

“We are on the path to one day playing on a par with Barça, but right now I hope the draw doesn't pair us with them in the group. Pep Guardiola's men are unbeatable!”