Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso has warned his team they must improve if they are to have any chance of beating Barcelona in the Champions League next month.
Gattuso spoke to reporters after seeing his side beaten 2-1 by Parma in Serie A on Wednesday, according to Sport’s Lluis Miguelsanz.
“If we continue like this, with this attitude and performance, the only thing I can assure you is we won’t even tickle Barça in the Champions League,” he said.
“We’re making too many mistakes and our opponents are punishing us. It’s happened a lot of times now and we must correct that because it’s causing us too many problems.”
“Our priority is to improve in the league and later we’ll talk about the Champions League. We aren’t going through the best moment.”
Barcelona take on Napoli on August 8 at the Camp Nou. The tie is level at 1-1 after the first leg in Italy, and the winners will progress to a quarter-final in Lisbon against either Bayern Munich or Chelsea.
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Napoli’s Unbeaten Streak Ends
Napoli’s defeat leaves the team down in seventh place in the Serie A table with only three games of the disrupted season left to play. The result was their first defeat in five games and leaves them on 56 points ahead of matches against Sassuolo, Inter and Lazio.
The club can’t qualify for the Champions League through their league position but have already secured European football for next season. Napoli’s victory over Juventus in the Coppa Italia final means they qualify for the 2020-21 Europa League.
Yet Napoli’s form is clearly of concern to Gattuso. The team have only won three of their last seven games in Serie A and have kept one clean sheet in the league since the restart.
Barcelona’s Full Focus on the Champions League
Meanwhile, Barcelona’s full focus is now on the Champions League after the Catalans wrapped up their La Liga campaign on Sunday with a 5-0 win over Alaves. After missing out on the league title the club will now be hoping for success in Europe to avoid finishing the season empty-handed.
Manager Quique Setien is under pressure after just six months in the role but has said he is confident his team do have enough quality to lift the European Cup.
“We are all aware that there are many things to improve. We must be more consistent and more reliable. This is the reality. If we manage to put in a display like at Villarreal, where everything went well, it will surely give us a chance to win the Champions League. We must be more reliable during the 90 minutes and convince ourselves that If we give our best, of course we can win the Champions League.”
There’s no doubt it’s been a disappointing season for Barcelona so far, but they do have the chance of redemption in the Champions League. The Catalan giants have suffered painful exits at the hands of Roma and Liverpool in the last two seasons but will need to improve if they are to avoid more European heartache.