Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri has said that Mancheter City’s big spending ways will count for little when they enter the Stadio San Paolo for a match which is likely to determine who progresses to the next stage of the Champion League with group leaders Bayern Munich.
“There’s a lot of talk about budgets, players’ worth and salaries. They are on a level with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea – but the game is decided on the pitch and we’re going to give them some bother,” said Mazzarri who was unlucky to leave Eastlands with just a draw in September.
Napoli enjoyed the better of that clash, frustrating City and exploiting Roberto Mancini’s side on the break, taking the lead when Edinson Cavani finished a typically swift counter attack before Aleksandar Kolarov’s wonderful free kick in the 75th minute levelled things.
Mazzarri knows that a much more cohesive City will arrive in Naples for this fixture though: “If we then prevail, it will be a feat of feats.”
“When the draw was made I though it would be impossible to reach the fifth round of games still with a chance of advancing. That means we’ve done something extraordinary, and anything else that comes our way from hear on out will be gold.”
“Whatever happens we’ll still at least be in the Europa League,” the Italian coach said.
Victory for City will all but guarantee progress
Mancini though has his eyes on bigger prizes with the Blues being considered contenders for the premier league and Champions League, and he is keen to stress that his side will not make the same mistakes they did in the first meeting between these sides.
Victory here would all but guarantee them passage as Bayern lead the group on ten, City are on seven while Napoli have five in what has been labelled the group of death.
“In the home game we left a lot of space for them to counter attack and Napoli are fantastic at that,” he said.
“We learned a lot from that game. It was our first game in the Champions League and we were nervous.
“We left a lot of space and Naples are very good on the counter-attack with players like Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Marek Hamsik. They are very dangerous,” said Mancini of three players he has been linked with moves for.
City are undefeated in nine games in all competitions, and have scored 33 goals in that spell, but Mancini says they must not allow themselves to get complacent.
“It can happen in Naples because they are a good team,” he said of the fervent environment which awaits his team.
“There will be 60,000 people and the atmosphere will be fantastic, but it will be important for us to focus on the game and not to concede a lot of space for Naples because they are a fantastic team.
“The supporters are very close to the team. The atmosphere is totally different from any other stadium in Italy.”
Mancini is likely to make a few unforced changes to the side who swept aside Newcastle at the weekend but the in-form David Silva may have to wait to return to the starting line up.
“Yaya is strong, he is tall,” said Mancini. “David is short – it is a difference. Also Yaya only played one game for the Ivory Coast last week, and David played two,” said Mancini.
Napoli are likely to start their three tenors of Marek Hamsik, Cavani, and Ezequiel Lavezzi who were unable to find the net in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Lazio.
Prediction: 1-2 Napoli are a dangerous outfit, capable of scoring but they will leave space which City should be able to pick gaps in.