Luciano Spalletti has pushed back on Pep Guardiola’s claim Napoli are the best team in Europe right now, claiming the comments are “a game to build us up, so they can knock us down”.
The Partenopei booked their first appearance in the Champions League quarter-finals after a comfortable 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the last-16 second leg.
With an 18-point lead at the summit of Serie A to boot, Spalletti’s side seem primed for silverware regardless, and City boss Guardiola suggested they are the team to beat.
Spalletti, however, feels the Catalan coach is only saying as much in order to take the advantage in the mental tussle ahead of Friday’s last-eight draw, with both teams in the mix to meet.
“I don’t feel proud, I don’t feel anything,” he told Amazon Prime Italia. “I know this game that everyone does to put pressure on the others.
“Are we putting Napoli in front of Manchester City? If they can spend €900m compared to our €9m, there must be a reason. It’s a game to build us up, so they can knock us down.”
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— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) March 15, 2023
City booked their place in the quarter-finals with a ruthless result of their own, notching a 7-0 second leg victory over RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
Napoli meanwhile join rivals Milan and Inter in the last-eight, marking the first time three Italian teams have reached the stage since the 2005-06 campaign.
Spalletti urged supporters to enjoy the moment, but insisted his team cannot get carried away as they look to make further history in Europe this season.
“It is a great result, [and] we are going to enjoy it along with all our fans,” he added. “Now it becomes fundamental that we maintain the same attitude.
“If Napoli in the entire history of this club had not reached the quarter-finals before, that means this is a great result.”
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