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Friday February 25 2011
Curb your Azzurri enthusiasm

In the wake of their Europa League exit to Villarreal, Rob Paton takes a look at its significance on Napoli's title hopes and their longer-term ambitions

Whilst the Europa League loss at Villarreal carried little significance for Napoli eyes set on Serie A, the manner of the performances across the two legs proved interesting. Luck and a failure to convert some gilt-edged chances contributed to their European exit, but so too did patterns of play that teams other than Villarreal have also been able to take advantage of – ones that become more significant with Napoli's short and long-term targets on the horizon.

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Thursday February 24 2011
Napoli to leave out Cavani

Walter Mazzarri will leave Edinson Cavani out of his starting line up to face Villarreal this evening, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

It would appear that Napoli's priorities lie with Serie A rather than the Europa League, although there is a real possibility that he will come off the bench.

Napoli are due to play Milan at San Siro on Monday night in what is already being billed as a title decider by the Italian media.

Mazzarri's side currently lie second in the table, just three points behind the League leaders with 12 games remaining.

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Thursday February 24 2011
Line-ups: Cavani benched for Villarreal

Napoli have left Edinson Cavani, Christian Maggio and Paolo Cannavaro on the bench for their decider with Villarreal.

Walter Mazzarri confirmed he would have to rotate the squad ahead of Monday night's top of the table Serie A clash with Milan, as his players were exhausted after their last game.

The 0-0 draw in the first leg at the San Paolo leaves the Europa League fixture wide open.

Salvatore Aronica is suspended following his late red card in that game, joining the injured Gianluca Grava and Luigi Vitale.

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Thursday February 24 2011
Dossena: 'Napoli heads held high'

Andrea Dossena feels Napoli “leave the Europa League with our heads held high” and might've won on points against Villarreal.

The Partenopei fell 2-1 at the Madrigal after Marek Hamsik had given them the lead, hitting the woodwork twice with Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani.

“I don't know who would've won this game on points,” Dossena told Mediaset after the final whistle.

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Thursday February 24 2011
De Sanctis had issues with referee

Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis criticised the referee, but conceded “our elimination was not down to the officials.”

There were protests at Villarreal's winning goal, as Hasan Yebda might've been brought down unfairly in the build-up.

“I have played in Turkey, so I know the quality of referees there is very good, but without doubt they favour the home team every time,” said the shot-stopper who featured for Galatasaray in 2008-09.

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Thursday February 24 2011
Hamsik: 'This elimination hurts'

Goalscorer Marek Hamsik admits “this elimination hurts, as we played on level terms with Villarreal.”

The Slovak's diving header had given Napoli the lead at El Madrigal, but Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi struck twice on the stroke of half-time to secure a 2-1 victory.

“This elimination hurts, as we played on level terms with a great side like Villarreal,” he told Mediaset.

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Thursday February 24 2011
Mazzarri: 'Napoli were truly unlucky'

Walter Mazzarri says Napoli were “truly unlucky” to go out of the Europa League against Villarreal.

Marek Hamsik had given them the lead and they hit the woodwork twice, but two goals on the stroke of half-time turned it around.

“We were truly unlucky in the key incidents. Their winner was a deflection, while we rattled the frame of the goal twice and went very close to going 2-0 up,” said the Coach.

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Wednesday February 23 2011
De Laurentiis: Napoli like Barca

Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has spoken of his desire to model the club on Barcelona.

The 61-year-old movie mogul has big plans for Napoli especially in light of their recent success.

Walter Mazzarri's side currently lie second in Serie A, just three points behind League leaders Milan.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he said: "Four years ago we didn't exist in the European standings.

"Three years ago, we were 300th. Now we are in 29th place. It means that from nothing, we have worked well.

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Wednesday February 23 2011
Reja plays down Napoli success

Lazio boss Edy Reja has played down the success Walter Mazzarri is having with Napoli this season.

The veteran tactician got Napoli back into Serie A after a six-year exile in which they went bankrupt and dropped to the third tier of Italian football.

He was dismissed by Aurelio De Laurentiis in 2009 amid doubts that he could take the team to the next level.

Lazio currently lie fourth in Serie A, just four points behind Napoli who have the look of genuine title contenders.

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Wednesday February 23 2011
'Villarreal aren't afraid of Napoli'

Juan Carlos Garrido insists his Villarreal side aren't afraid of playing Napoli in the second leg of their Europa League knock out tie at El Madrigal on Thursday.

Villarreal drew 0-0 at the San Paolo last week and while there is a fear that they may concede an away goal, confidence isn't lacking among the players.

"We'll have a 50 per cent chance of going through," Garrido said. "The important thing will be to repeat the game we played in Italy.

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