Napoli director Mauro Meluso acknowledges ‘mistakes were made’ in the post-Scudetto season, but Francesco Calzona has ‘had a very positive impact’ on the team ahead of the Barcelona clash.

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 of this Champions League Round of 16 tie will be at Camp Nou on March 12.

Walter Mazzarri was sacked on Monday evening, so Calzona became the third different coach of the season for Napoli, sharing the role with his other job as manager of the Slovakia national team.

“Calzona had a very positive impact on the team seen in the only two training sessions he had before this important game. He explained three or four concepts, we are very confident that the initial impact will shake up the side psychologically,” director of sport Meluso told Sky Sport Italia.

“I think he also gave them something on a technical and tactical level, so we’ll see tonight. He does not let his emotions show too much, so he seems very calm, relaxed, had this morning’s training session going over some tactical issues and set play routines.

“He shook off that adrenaline and we know this match is very important, as is the second leg, for many reasons.”

President Aurelio De Laurentiis had faced criticism for picking first Rudi Garcia and then Mazzarri after Scudetto winner Luciano Spalletti walked away in the summer of 2023.

“Instead of talking about the past, we want to think of the present and the future. Some mistakes were made, certainly, but this is not the time to go over those,” added Meluso.

“The President had the UEFA lunch today with the Barcelona delegation, so it has been a busy few days. We are relaxed, because when you do something, you must do it with conviction.”

Calzona is no stranger to Napoli, as he was already the assistant manager here under both Maurizio Sarri and Spalletti, but left before the title-winning campaign of 2022-23.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

Tickets Kit Collector