"No one imagined we would be in this position come matchday five," said coach Walter Mazzarri, with SSC Napoli's round of 16 chances still alive as they take on Manchester City FC.
Article top media content
SSC Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri feels the pressure is off his side, even though they must win at home against Manchester City FC to take control of their Group A destiny, with visiting boss Roberto Mancini wary of talking his side up too much in their first UEFA Champions League season.
Coach Walter Mazzarri
Manchester City are one of the best teams in the world and we can't afford to slip up. They are playing much better now. On matchday one they could call on Carlos Tévez but although he isn't playing anymore, they have Mario Balotelli – who is an amazing player – instead. Against Newcastle at the weekend they were able to rest five players. We are not so lucky, but after the draw in Nyon, no one imagined we would be in this position come matchday five; we are very proud of this. Anything else now will be a bonus for us, and if we go into the Europa League, we will play to win that too, because that has to be our mentality.
The pressure is on Roberto Mancini much more than us, because his team has been built to win; the owner has spent €200m in the last 18 months, while we are still growing. We'll have to play better from the very start, than we did in our two matches against Bayern. Lately we have started games a bit naively but now I think we are experienced enough to keep our concentration for the whole match. I hope our fans support us until the end, even if we make mistakes, because my players will try their best – I know that much.
Saturday: Napoli 0-0 S.S. Lazio
De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica; Maggio, Dzemaili (Gargano 58), Inler, Dossena (Pandev 74), Hamšík; Lavezzi, Cavani
• The Partenopei, who have kept five clean sheets in seven Serie A matches, have won just one of their last seven games in all competitions.
Walter Gargano came on as a substitute on Saturday on his return from a left thigh injury suffered on 23 October. Goran Pandev saw his first Serie A action since sustaining a muscle strain on 1 October, though he had previously featured as a late substitute on matchday four. Marco Donadel (right thigh) is yet to play this term.
Manager Roberto Mancini
We are in good shape, but it's not easy to play every three days. It's important to win – this is the first time for us in the UEFA Champions League but anything can happen.
We have a lot of good players but it's too early to say whether we are as good as Real Madrid or Barcelona. I think we are closer to Napoli, a great team with a lot of good players. What we did in this 18 months is very important and we are moving very fast.
Mario Balotelli is growing, like Manchester City. Mario has started to understand that it is all down to him. I don't know if he will play tomorrow, but if I decide to pick him, I'm sure he will play good football.
Saturday: Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United FC (Balotelli 41pen, Richards 44, Agüero 72pen; Gosling 89)
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Milner, De Jong, Y Touré (Barry 85), Nasri; Agüero (Johnson 76), Balotelli (Silva 69)
• City extended their winning run to nine games in all competitions. They have triumphed in 11 Premier League home fixtures on the trot.
Samir Nasri returned against Newcastle having been out since 2 November with a groin problem.
Napoli can draw strength from not just their 1-1 draw in Manchester on matchday one but, moreover, their formidable recent home record in Europe. Since returning to continental competition after 13 years in 2008, they are unbeaten in ten matches. The last foreign team to prevail in Naples were Eintracht Frankfurt in December 1994.