KEY POINTS

  • Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says his team "can’t make the slightest error" when they face Barcelona in the Champions League
  • Gattuso admitted to being concerned over what Lionel Messi can do
  • Messi revealed Barcelona's plans ahead of the Champions League 

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso believes his team will fare well against Barcelona in the second leg of round 16 of the Champions League, but he remains wary of Lionel Messi.

After losing its La Liga title to Real Madrid this season, Barcelona is set to face Italian side Napoli in leg 2 of round 16 of the upcoming Champions League. Ahead of the must-win Aug. 8 match, Italy legend and Napoli coach Gattuso got candid about the Serie A contender’s chances of beating the Spanish club.

Gattuso said that winning against a team like Barcelona is not an easy task. However, the 42-year-old is still confident Napoli stands a chance of knocking out the Catalans.

“Barcelona is Barcelona, but we will go to the Camp Nou to impose our style and try to qualify for the next round. We will not be defeated before the start of the game,” Gattuso vowed, Spanish newspaper Marca reported.

The coach said they would need to be focused during the entire game in order to win against Barca.

“We can’t make the slightest error against Barcelona,” he added. “They get half a chance and put it in the top corner. We’ve got to play 95 minutes with our heads in the game. People think passing is easy, it’s really not. We have to become a team that thinks, that covers spaces the right way and remains totally focused.” 

But despite being ready for Barcelona, Gattuso emphasized that there is one player in the club who can definitely change the entire outcome of the match by himself.

“We are ready to face Barcelona. We have our style, we are prepared. But they have one player named Messi who can leave 10 players behind,” he said.

Lionel Messi is La Liga's leading scorer this season with 19 goals Lionel Messi is La Liga's leading scorer this season with 19 goals Photo: AFP / LLUIS GENE

Meanwhile, following the victory over Alaves in Barcelona’s final La Liga match this season, Messi made an unusual admission about the team’s situation. The Argentine icon revealed that Barca has learned to “criticized themselves in private.”

Messi also said that they have realized that a lot of things were not going their way and managed to improve their “quality and commitment.” He added that individual recognitions are secondary and emphasized that going in with "clear heads" would be essential as they return for the Champions League.

“It's an important moment for us because we are playing for important things, but you do not need to have the captain's armband for that,” Messi pointed out. “We are all aware that we have to be more consistent. The individual prizes are secondary.”