Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

Barcelona tickled us, says Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso

Dries Mertens gave Napoli the lead before Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann equalised in the second half

By Agencies
  • Published 27.02.20, 2:53 AM
  • Updated 27.02.20, 3:41 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Dries Mertens (left) scores during the Champions League, Round of 16, first-leg football match between Napoli and Barcelona in Naples on Tuesday (AP)

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso was in typically combative mood after his side were held 1-1 at home by Barcelona in the Champions League, saying they would use “helmets and armour” to defend themselves in the return.

Tuesday’s result left the Serie A side with a huge task in the return at Camp Nou on March 18 but the famously fiery coach refused to accept his side were out of the running in the round-of -6 tie.

“I’d like to answer that question in my style but I can’t,” he said when asked if Napoli still had hope of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.

“Of course nothing is finished, we know there will be difficulties but we’ll buy the helmets, the armour and we’ll go and play at Camp Nou.”

Dries Mertens gave Napoli the lead before Antoine Griezmann equalised in the second half. Gennaro took over at Napoli in December, his second job in charge of a Serie A side after AC Milan, and has managed to revive the team after a shaky start.

“At least this match gave us the awareness that if we play as a team, we can give great performances,” he said.

He was pleased by the side’s “willingness to suffer” as well as their quality against Barcelona.

He added: “There is regret that we drew but, really, not much changes between 1-0 and 1-1 — we know that whatever happens we have to put in a great performance there. They didn’t hurt us, they tickled us,” said Gattuso.

“It went wrong in one moment and they punished us.”

Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne added: “We could have won, so we’re a bit disappointed. It was emotional to face players like (Lionel) Messi.”

Messi failed to score on his first appearance at the Stadio San Paolo, where Napoli legend Diego Maradona reigned supreme three decades ago.

The 32-year-old Messi scored four goals at the weekend in Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Eibar that put the Spaniards back top of La Liga, but could not add to his 114 Champions League goals.

“If Barca didn’t do what they did three days ago (against Eibar) it’s to Napoli’s credit,” said Gattuso. “I hope that no one thinks it’s over. We know it will be very hard but nothing is finished yet. ”