Tuesday February 21 2012
Favourites tag good for Napoli

Ciro Ferrara believes Napoli’s status as favourites for their Champions League clash with Chelsea serves as an excellent example of how far they have come.

The club were languishing in Serie C1 as recently as 2005-06, but under Aurelio De Laurentiis’ presidency and Edy Reja and Walter Mazzari’s coaching, they have returned to Serie A, and now find themselves as favourites for the European clash with Chelsea.

The London side are in crisis, having not won a game since January and go into the Champions League Last 16 first leg at the San Paolo as underdogs to the Partenopei, who have already eliminated Manchester City and Villarreal at the group stages.

“It is a major boost and makes you realise the scale of the climb accomplished at the club,” the current Italy Under-21 Coach reflected in La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Now they are missing just the final step - this group under Mazzarri must win a trophy to certify their incredible progress.

“But the very fact of dealing with the English side as underdogs, who in 2010 win the League and Cup, must be a source of pride for the whole club and in particular for the players who have grown over the years and whose input has been critical.”

The former Napoli defender, who won the 1989 UEFA Cup with the club, was asked for which side the first leg in Italy was most important.

“Both, for us and for them. And I keep in mind that Napoli can do more harm away from home.

“It will not be determined by the goals scored in the first round. But you can’t limit yourself to chance.

“We know that they have not won since mid-January, and when you face an opponent in a Cup like this you have to watch out for the pride factor - players will always be able to hurt you. But we are in a favourable climate - Napoli can also hurt them.”