Napoli midfielder Valon Behrami has claimed Borussia Dortmund are ‘afraid’ of the Italian club ahead of their UEFA Champions League clash.
Both Napoli and Dortmund have perfect league records this season, ahead of Wednesday’s match at the Stadio San Paolo.
But while Behrami accepts Dortmund will make it ‘very difficult’ for Napoli, the Swiss midfielder is convinced the German club, who made the final of last season’s Champions League, fear the Neapolitans.
“We surely have confidence in our skills but we know we’re going to face a great team who play at high rhythms and don’t leave any space,” Behrami said on Tuesday.
“As with any other Champions League match, this match is going to be very difficult for us.
“Of course they are also afraid of us and this fact can only increase our self-confidence.”
Dortmund’s head coach Jurgen Klopp denied Behrami’s claims, however, and argued his team consider Napoli a challenge and one they are keen to tackle.
Klopp added that with Dortmund having won all five of their matches in the Bundesliga so far this season, no team would be keen to take on his side.
“If you measure their (Napoli’s) potential, not only their attacking abilities, even though it is built on pace, technique and spirit.
“Then, if you look on their defence, they are well experienced and really consistent in what they do.
“It’s not something we are scared of but we have looked into these things ahead of the match in order to judge and prepare for them.
“But again, those who have seen us in our past four or five matches would also not be happy and say ‘hey, luckily Borussia Dortmund is coming’.”
Klopp also claimed Napoli are a better side this season
than in the 2012/13 campaign when they finished second in Serie A and had Edinson Cavani on their books.
Cavani was sold to Paris Saint-Germain during the European summer transfer window for a reported fee of €64million but with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens and Pepe Reina having joined Napoli, Klopp is adamant Napoli have strengthened.
“Napoli is right in saying that they are similar to us,” the 46-year-old coach said.
“They received a huge amount of money for Cavani and worked well in the transfer market.
“They have some great new signings.
“I’m pretty sure Napoli is stronger than last season. For me, they are one of the favourites, from what I have seen so far they have been playing outstanding football.”