Francesco Calzona asks Napoli to ‘press the reset button’ and start again with the Champions League showdown against Barcelona for his debut. ‘We don’t need many words, just action.’

The first leg in the Champions League Round of 16 tie kicks off at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona at 20.00 GMT on Wednesday.

Despite reports that Walter Mazzarri would remain until after this match, he was sacked yesterday and Calzona appointed, so his presentation press conference was also the traditional UEFA meeting with the media.

It is not the only time he is doing double duty, because Calzona will be Napoli coach for the rest of the season whilst also remaining as the manager of the Slovakia national team.

“I am thankful for this opportunity to become the coach of Napoli, I thank the Slovakia players, the Federation and the fans for showing so much respect and understanding,” started Calzona.

“We start from today, press the reset button on everything, start a new journey. I found a team that was immediately at my disposal. We don’t need many words, we need action right now, so got straight to work.

“We do not have much time, so I told the players we have no more excuses, we must improve our position at this moment.

“Clearly, Barcelona are a strong team, one of the best in Europe, even if they went through a few difficult moments. We are Napoli, so we are not afraid of anyone, but nobody can disguise that Barcelona have great players and a top coach.”

Does Calzona also have a message for the Napoli supporters as he becomes their third coach of the season?

“Clearly, the Napoli fans are special, but we need to make them proud and happy with our performances. We do not need to ask them for anything.”

This will be the first game that Osimhen has played at Napoli since leaving for the Africa Cup of Nations at the end of December.

“Osimhen trained with the team, naturally it was not a long session, as we had many things to do, but he was working at full tempo. All the players will be evaluated after tomorrow’s session.”

This is a return to Napoli for Calzona, who was already assistant manager to Maurizio Sarri from 2015-18, then again under Luciano Spalletti in the 2021-22 campaign.

“I worked with three great coaches, as I include Eusebio Di Francesco, and they passed on many great concepts that will help me in my journey. I will also add some of my own ideas, but they were all important to me.

“Clearly, I am happy and when I got to the motorway exit, my adrenaline was already rising. It is a big debut against an important and strong opponent, but I am not worried, because Napoli are a good team. That makes me happy.”

What has not been working in the Partenopei since they dominated the Scudetto race last year?

“Napoli lack conviction at the moment, but this is a strong team, it proved that last season, at times this season, with a very good Champions League group phase. I am totally convinced.”

Has Calzona had time to study Barcelona this season and what does he expect from Xavi Hernandez?

“I watched Barcelona as a sports fan, because of course I was not expecting what happened yesterday. We watched many of their games, I expect a tough match, but we are going out there to win the game, as that is my mentality regardless of who we are facing.

“We will absolutely not be playing for a draw. If Barcelona do so well that they force us to play a draw, then we tip our hats to them, but we play to win.

“If the players do what I ask for most of the game, then I will be happy. If they show me that they believe in the ideas I have explained to them, that would be a great result.

“I asked them to be a team both attacking and defending, that would be enough to please me.”

While Walter Mazzarri switched repeatedly from one system to another, but being a former assistant to Sarri and Spalletti, he is expected to adopt a 4-3-3.

“I do like the 4-3-3, but I am not tied to a system. This team was built in a certain way and I try to make the most of the characteristics that they have.”

Calzona was asked what President Aurelio De Laurentiis said and how long this return had been on the cards.

“Nobody had contacted me before I spoke to the club on Sunday. The President is not happy with the situation, he asked me to believe strongly in our objectives, which are to progress in the Champions League and try to qualify for the tournament next season.”

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