Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sarri wants Maradona team talk for Napoli in Madrid Champions League clash

SoccerNews in Serie A 15 Feb 2017

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Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri hopes Diego Maradona will be on hand to give his players a pre-match pep talk at Real Madrid.

Sarri’s side face the holders in a Champions League last-16 clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday – a re-run of their first-round European Cup tie in 1987.

All-time great Maradona was the darling of the Napoli support back then but was unable to inspire victory over the most successful team in the history of Europe’s top-tier competition, with a 2-0 defeat in the Spanish capital followed by a 1-1 draw in Naples.

The 56-year-old will be in attendance at the Bernabeu as Napoli look to claim long-awaited revenge, but Sarri suggested he would look to hand the one-time Argentina head coach a more hands-on role.

“It would be good if Maradona could speak to the side before the game,” he told a pre-match news conference.

“It would help the side – hopefully he has the time to do so.”

Free-scoring Napoli have more goals than any other side in Serie A this season, with 57 in 24 top-flight games, and Sarri does not want them to alter their approach too much when faced with Zinedine Zidane’s men.

“There’s risks to playing our way but being afraid would not be good,” he said.

“We need to be ourselves and face the match with the idea that we are facing the European champions, but it’s important for us to see up to what point we can compete with sides on a world level.

“The first thing we need to think about is that it is beautiful to play against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

“I’m going to use the most offensive strategy I can that will also allow us to defend in the right manner and contain Real Madrid.”

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