New Napoli coach Francesco Calzona admits he’s been ‘in a blender’ over the three days and ‘expects a great deal’ from Victor Osimhen against Barcelona in the Champions League.

It kicks off at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona at 20.00 GMT.

You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens on the LIVEBLOG.

The second leg will be at Camp Nou on March 12 and the away goals rule no longer applies in UEFA competitions.

It has been a whirlwind for the Napoli squad, as Rudi Garcia was fired in October, then Walter Mazzarri received his marching orders on Monday, giving Calzona barely 48 hours to prepare for this Champions League Round of 16.

“It all happened very fast, I’ve basically jumped into a blender and from yesterday I got back onto the pitch. I am in my world,” Calzona told Amazon Prime Italia.

“I want us to take the initiative and we’ve got what it takes to do that. Barcelona are a strong side, we will be under pressure and must react as a team.”

He is by no means a stranger to Napoli, having already been the assistant manager under both Maurizio Sarri and Luciano Spalletti, but left in the summer of 2022 to become the coach of the Slovakia national team.

This is a role he will continue to hold even while working at Napoli for the rest of the season.

“I had three great teachers, as Eusebio Di Francesco also taught me a great deal. What I try to bring to the table has a lot of their ideas of football, so it’s going to be a mix.”

Not only is it Calzona’s debut on the Napoli bench, but Osimhen is also back in the side for the first time since leaving for Africa Cup of Nations duty at the end of December.

“I expect a great deal from him, because he is a world class player. He guaranteed to me that he is in good shape.”

Being a former assistant manager, Calzona will be well aware that Aurelio De Laurentiis is rather a hands on President who tends to go into the locker room before or even during matches.

“I have no problems with the President, he did not ask me anything in particular and we do have objectives. He was kind to me, he knows full well how I see things. If he wants to come into the locker room, he can do.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *