Hello Daniele. First off, congratulations for Champions League qualification. Your anticipation must be huge right?
Thank you! That's right, the anticipation is huge. Last year we qualified for the Europa League and it was really exciting, but now the Champions League is something completely different. There are such strong sides in the group, it’s like playing semis already. I still can’t believe what we have achieved.
What expectations do you have in our group?
Our group is without doubt the strongest of all the Champions League groups. With Bayern Munich, Villarreal, City and Napoli each of the four strongest European leagues are represented. Every game will be like a final for each team, and every point could be crucial.
As Napoli fans we are happy to be in the European Cup again after a 21 year absence, but obviously we hoped for an easy group so that we could make it to the knockout phase. No one would complain if we end up in the Europa League but ultimately we want to show Europe what we’re capable of.
Our president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, wants to the team to become established in the Champions League and that should be the goal for the next few years. We cannot expect to move mountains in the first year, even if the team has a lot of potential. Every point we get will be celebrated accordingly.
Coach Mazzarri seems to have a philosophy for the future too.
Walter Mazzarri is undoubtedly a coach who puts great emphasis on the discipline of the team. He never makes predictions for a game, and he never declares what players he is interested in during the transfer period.
If you have seen a few Napoli games last year, it was hardly surprising that the team often secured late victories – a big priority for the team is to fight to the very last second. When he took over from Roberto Donadoni in the middle of the 2009/10 season, the formation was converted from a 3-5-2 to 3-4-2-1, and the team’s fortunes changed. The team plays pleasingly offensive football, which is rather unusual for Italian teams.
What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the team, where do you see deficits?
The main strength of our team is undoubtedly the attack. With Hamsik (8 goals, 11 assists), Lavezzi (6 goals, 11 assists) and Cavani (26 goals, 9 assists) last season we were extremely dangerous. We’ve carried that into this season, with Lavezzi and Hamsik scoring [in a 3-1 win at Cesena].
Last season, we were very strong on the counter-attack. That’s one of our main strengths. A possible problem ahead of the game on Wednesday against Manchester City is the lack of match practice, because Serie A only started this weekend.
In addition, we fielded four new players (Inler, Dzemaili, Pandev, and Fernandez) who haven’t had much opportunity to play together.
To the Game, whats the starting XI?
I belive De Sanctis - Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica - Maggio, Inler, Dzemaili, Dossena - Hamsik - Lavezzi, Cavani.
My personal prediction is 1-1. We’ve followed City since the draw and it will be hard, because City are now playing the best football in England. But as I said, our strengths is counter attacking and this will be our best chance.
1-1? Whooaaa ok, ok. The enthusiasm of the Naples Fans is often identified as a stimulant for Players. What about the Ultras? And what support we can expect in Manchester?
Our Ultras are one of the worst in Serie A. Each year, we’re involved in major riots with rival teams and over again with the police. Often, our ultra scene is linked with the Camorra, the organized crime.
Our biggest enemies are: merda Juventus, merda AC Milan, merda Inter, merda Sampdoria, merda Lazio and merda merda merda AS Roma. All of them are shit.
When we played in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup and were eliminated against Benfica, the fans have developed a huge friendship. We also have a very close relationship with FC Genoa, and a good rapport with the U.S. Palermo and Catania fans.
I personally hope that there will be no riots against Manchester City and who knows, maybe it ends the same way as at Benfica. As for our home match against City, there will be no trouble. International teams are welcome and opposing fans will be well received in the city.