Mazzarri demanding perfection from Napoli

If SSC Napoli play "the perfect game" in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg they can do to Chelsea FC what they did to Manchester City FC, says coach Walter Mazzari.

Mazzarri demanding perfection from Napoli
Mazzarri demanding perfection from Napoli ©

Walter Mazzarri has demanded that his SSC Napoli players approach their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg against Chelsea FC with the same "adrenaline and pride" they showed earlier this season when they beat Manchester City FC 2-1 at the Stadio San Paolo. Mazzarri will not be in the dugout as he begins a two-match ban but his assistant Nicolò Frustalupi – "a superior tactical coach" – will assume the reins of opponents Chelsea manager regards as "not just a club, but a state of mind of the whole city".

Coach Walter Mazzarri

We are up against a Chelsea team that has played over 100 matches in the UEFA Champions League [compared to Napoli's six in the modern era], so I won't hear anyone saying we are the favourites. I hope Chelsea will not find their game, because otherwise it will be hard for us. I want to instil a special mentality in my players, to focus for the whole game. We have to be careful, because Chelsea can't have the chance to hit us on the break.

What Chelsea are doing in the Premier League is irrelevant. Here we play only two matches, not a whole league, and they have a lot of good players who can change the game in a flash. Chelsea and Manchester City have a similar attitude: good games, good players and high pressure. We have to face them in the same way: with adrenaline and pride.

We can get a result, though only if we are at our best. Merely having a special game won't do; all the team need to have 'the' perfect game. It is important that Chelsea do not score here and it would be great if Napoli could. The Stadio San Paolo will certainly be amazing, though. When we play matches like these, we have the best supporters in Europe.

Weekend result
Friday: ACF Fiorentina 0-3 Napoli (Cavani 3 55, Lavezzi 90+1)
Rosati; Campagnaro (Grava 12), Cannavaro, Britos; Maggio, Dzemaili, Inler, Dossena; Hamšík (Gargano 70), Lavezzi; Cavani (Pandev 74).

• Edinson Cavani took his tally to 16 goals in his last 18 outings as Napoli secured only their third win in nine games, but their second in five days. Goalkeeper Antonio Rosati made his league debut for Napoli after Morgan De Sanctis was ruled out with a minor knock picked up in training.

Team news
De Sanctis is expected to start but, though he has made the 19-man squad, there are question marks over Hugo Campagnaro after he was forced off with a right calf injury 12 minutes into Friday's game. Eduardo Vargas is out with a twisted ankle.

Manager André Villas-Boas
Tomorrow it will be important to stay focused because Napoli are a very strong team. Hopefully we get a good result so that we can qualify at Stamford Bridge in the second leg.

Napoli and coach Walter Mazzarri have grown a lot in these last years. Last season they achieved excellent results in the UEFA Europa League and this season they have managed to reach the round of 16 [of the UEFA Champions League]. They have a good project here and the owner has done a very good job. They represent a whole city; Napoli is not just a club but a state of mind of the whole city. I’m impressed by this.

We have a three-year project and it’s no fun having only two targets left for this season ‒ the FA Cup and the Champions League ‒ but I'm confident we can go on in these competitions. In recent years Chelsea have had amazing results and it's normal that there is pressure on me.

Weekend result
Saturday: Chelsea 1-1 Birmingham City FC (Sturridge 62; Murphy 20)
Čech; Ivanović, Cahill, Luiz, Bertrand; Ramires, Mikel (Kalou 57), Meireles; Sturridge, Torres (Drogba 46), Mata (Lampard 83).

• Juan Mata had a 23rd-minute penalty saved, but Daniel Sturridge scored his seventh goal in six FA Cup starts for Chelsea to earn a fifth-round replay against second-tier Birmingham. The draw leaves the west London side four games without a win in all competitions.

Team news
Ashley Cole (calf, out since 11 February) and John Terry (knee, 28 January) are awaiting late fitness tests with the Chelsea captain deemed "a big doubt" by Villas-Boas. Ramires (knee) and John Obi Mikel (hamstring) returned to action against Birmingham.

Match fact
Chelsea, who are competing in the last 16 for the ninth season in succession, have won only once in seven visits to Italy, a 4-0 group-stage success at S.S. Lazio in 2003/04. The other six games have yielded three defeats and three draws.