Tue. Aug 4th, 2020

‘I can only mark Messi in my dreams!’ – Gattuso preparing Napoli for Barca clash

2 min read

The manager knows just how difficult it will be for his side to contain the Argentine star

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso joked that he can only mark Lionel Messi in his dreams or on PlayStation as he looked ahead to the upcoming Champions League showdown with Barcelona.

Saturday saw Napoli end their 2019-20 coronavirus-hit Serie A season with a 3-1 victory at home to Lazio – Fabian Luiz, Lorenzo Insigne and Matteo Politano fuelling the win.

Attention now turns to the second leg of Napoli’s Champions League last-16 tie against La Liga giants Barcelona, scheduled for August 8 at Camp Nou following February’s 1-1 draw.

Asked about six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi post-match, former AC Milan midfielder Gattuso told reporters: “I can mark Messi only in my dreams.

“Or if I set Napoli vs Barcelona on my son’s PlayStation, trying to catch him there when I played for Milan with 10-15 kilograms less than today.”

On Napoli’s planned approach against Barca after seeing off fourth-placed Lazio in Serie A, Gattuso said: “I think they are very different teams [Lazio and Barcelona] with two different styles.

“Lazio mixes technical and physical skills. Barcelona are all about quality. I think it will be a different game. We don’t have to think about score or not.

“We must play as a team, being confident that we can have our chances. We know that it will be an enterprise. Our mind must be free in order to express our qualities.”

Napoli will be sweating on Insigne’s fitness for the Barca trip after the star captain hobbled off against Lazio with six minutes remaining due to a thigh problem.

“Insigne spoke to the doctor, we’ll evaluate it over the next 48 hours when we have the test results,” Gattuso added. “Hopefully, it’s not as serious as we first thought.”

Napoli’s clash with Lazio was fiery at times with Gattuso himself admitting he deserved to be sent off for his own behaviour. 

“Italian football has changed in its mentality for a few years now, nobody gives you anything for free,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.

“I deserved to be sent off today, I freely admit I went too far, a few too many words were exchanged. Unfortunately, both parties ended up taking it up a few notches and the game suffered.

“I haven’t spoken to Simone Inzaghi yet, as it’s better for me to wait until I’ve calmed down, otherwise I tend to do even more damage.”

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