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Champions League

Barcelona: Valverde wary of 'dangerous' Napoli in last 16

Napoli are in something of a rut at present but Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is not expecting an easy Champions League tie.

Barcelona: Valverde wary of 'dangerous' Napoli in last 16
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Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde insists Napoli will be dangerous opponents in the Champions League last 16.

The Catalans were pitted against the Serie A side in Monday's knockout-stage draw in Nyon, with the first leg to take place at the San Paolo on February 25.

Napoli have endured a tough season domestically, their 2-1 loss at home to Parma on Saturday leaving them in eighth place, 18 points off leaders Inter and Juventus.

Despite some poor league results, which led to Carlo Ancelotti's departure as head coach and the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso, Napoli finished Champions League Group E unbeaten and are the only team to have beaten holders Liverpool in any competition this season.

Gattuso: "We'll show no fear"

Valverde believes Barça will need to be at their sharpest if they are to progress to the quarter-finals, even though his side triumphed 4-0 in their most recent meeting in pre-season.

"Napoli are a dangerous team," he told Barca TV. "Clearly, they're not going through their best moment. They've had a change of coach and they'll have to adapt bit by bit.

"We'll see how they are and how everyone is heading into February, but without a doubt, we'll have to prepare for the tie really well.

"It'll be a strong atmosphere, with a big stadium, one of those where the fans are very close. But that's fine. In that sense, we're used to playing in front of atmospheres of this kind and it'll be beautiful to experience everything in general around Napoli as a city."

Gattuso, meanwhile, has promised Napoli will go into the tie determined to give a strong account of themselves.

"Barcelona are a great team and it will be a big challenge across two fascinating games," he said. "We'll show no fear."


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