"This is the most important match of the season," said Ezequiel Lavezzi as his SSC Napoli side look to extend their 11-game European unbeaten home run against Chelsea FC.
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Ezequiel Lavezzi considers SSC Napoli's round of 16 meeting with Chelsea FC "the most important match of the season", and he is itching to mark the occasion with his first UEFA Champions League goal.
The Argentina winger made his mark late on in Napoli's 3-0 Serie A success at ACF Fiorentina at the weekend to take his tally for the season to five goals, but he has yet to register in six outings in his maiden tilt at Europe's top club competition. Yet there would be no better time to break that duck than when André Villas-Boas's Chelsea come to Naples.
The sparky No7, scorer of three goals in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League, is certainly due a goal against the Blues, and he said: "I really hope so. It would be pretty nice to score my first goal in the UEFA Champions League against a team like Chelsea. I know I could score more goals, but at the end of the game, if I have helped the team to get a result, I'll be happy."
Napoli are unbeaten at the Stadio San Paolo in 11 games since returning to continental competition in 2008 after a 13-year absence, and are eager to achieve a first-leg advantage. However, Lavezzi was in no mood to talk up their prospects in Tuesday's match, with the former CA San Lorenzo man wary of setting his side up for a fall.
"I'm staying really quiet," said the 26-year-old. "This is an important game but if we are not careful we risk losing. We are not the favourites because Chelsea have much experience than us, but I can promise that we are hungry and that we want to write an important page in our history. We have to respect Chelsea, otherwise we won't go on – that is clear.
"This is the most important match of the season and we can't make any mistakes," he continued, batting away talk of Chelsea's wavering form in England. "We have to play our game. I don't care how many goals our opponents have scored or conceded. We have to focus for more than 90 minutes and then everything might be good, especially if we know we have done our best."