Champions League: Napoli keeps Madrid guessing on Osimhen as Mazzarri eulogizes Ancelotti
Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri keeps Real Madrid guessing on whether Victor Osimhen will start in their Champions League clash and expresses ‘unlimited respect’ for Carlo Ancelotti. ‘He’s a gentleman.’
Mazzarri made his debut in a surprise Serie A victory away to Atalanta and wants to keep that momentum going in Madrid.
“I am not feeling particularly emotional, I have been coaching for many years,” Mazzarri told Sky Sport Italia.
“I am thinking of what I need to do, whether they are games of this level or any other, it makes little difference. We are aware that we are facing one of the top teams in the world with a great coach. The difficulties are known, but we still want to do as well as possible.”
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid have already qualified top of the group, it remains a tussle behind them, as Napoli are on 7 points, SC Braga 3 and Union Berlin 1.
“I get along very well with Carlo. We spoke often in the past too, I have unlimited respect for him and he is a real gentleman. He always showed self-control and set an example on the touchline.”
Rudi Garcia was sacked also due to the Champions League form, specifically that home draw with Leonardo Bonucci’s Union Berlin.
Jesper Lindstrom, Mathias Olivera, and Mario Rui are out injured, while Diego Demme is not on the UEFA list, but it remains to be seen whether Osimhen will be fit to start.
“Let’s wait until tomorrow. I need to talk to everyone. He certainly doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs, we’ll see if he starts or comes off the bench,” noted Mazzarri.
“We will try to secure our place in the Round of 16 tomorrow, otherwise we cannot get the final game wrong.”
President Aurelio De Laurentiis surprised many when he opted to bring back Mazzarri after the ill-fated Garcia start to the season.
“When he called, I made it clear that I was very happy to return. When I left a decade ago, it’s natural there was a bit of a frosty relationship at first, but it all went back to normal and there is a rapport of mutual respect.
“When I returned, the important thing was to get back to winning ways and we did that against Atalanta. I want us to play the way we did in the first half in Bergamo, then understand the problems and correct them.”