Walter Mazzarri says his SSC Napoli team must "play the perfect match" if they are to beat FC Steaua Bucureşti and advance to the round of 32 at the Romanian side's expense.
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SSC Napoli must produce a "perfect" performance if they are to overcome FC Steaua Bucureşti in a match they must win if they are to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
That is the view of their coach, Walter Mazzarri, whose team are third in Group K, two points below Steaua, for whom a draw will suffice. Home advantage is certainly encouraging − their visitors have not won on the road in Europe in six games − yet with victory the only thing which will save the Partenopei from elimination, Mazzari knows his charges must produce something special.
"We're playing at San Paolo Stadium and this is a good thing for us, but we mustn't forget that Steaua can progress with two results while Napoli must win − we have to play the perfect match," said the 49-year-old.
Confidence should not be a problem, though, with Napoli up to third in Serie A after a 1-0 triumph at Genoa CFC on Saturday. Moreover, they can certainly draw inspiration from an extraordinary Matchday 2 fixture between the teams, when the Azzurri − with a man advantage − recovered from 3-0 down to earn a draw with an equaliser from Edinson Cavani in the eighth minute of added time.
"Steaua are a really good team and they showed it in Bucharest," warned Mazzari, whose only fitness concern is whether Ezequiel Lavezzi has recovered from the ankle injury he suffered against US Città di Palermo last month. "They are above Napoli and we mustn't forget they are a famous club with a lot of experience."
Napoli are the only Italian club still in with a chance of reaching the round of 32, but Steaua coach Marius Lăcătuş is determined to hang on to second spot. "I want to be playing in the UEFA Europa League next spring," he said. "Napoli are a very proud side and especially at home they have something special, but that doesn't mean we will play with fear. We didn't come to Naples to defend."
Lăcătuş also shrugged off the possible absence of Lavezzi. "It doesn't matter if Ezequiel Lavezzi plays or not, Napoli are a great team regardless and our job is to stop all their players, not just one. We have experienced players and I trust them. They have played a lot of important matches in European competitions."
Bănel Nicoliţă and Pantelis Kapetanos are suspended, while midfielder Cristian Tănase is injured, but Lăcătuş wants no excuses. "Even though we have a lot of players out, I hope the ones I select will be at their best. This is a good chance for them."