'It's a game to knock us down!' - Pep Guardiola's Napoli claim prompts angry response from Luciano Spalletti
- Napoli beat Frankfurt to progress to UCL quarter-finals
- Guardiola lauded Napoli after City's huge Leipzig victory
- Spalletti having none of the praise
WHAT HAPPENED? Napoli sailed through to the quarter-finals of the continental competition after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 on aggregate. Spalletti is the first manager to take the Italian side into the last eight of the Champions League, and also has them sitting top of the Serie A table with an 18-point lead over second-place Inter. Manchester City boss Guardiola has been closely following Napoli's progress and hailed them as "the best team in Europe" after seeing his side beat RB Leipzig 7-0 in the second leg of their round of 16 tie. However, Spalletti has dismissed Guardiola's comments as mind games designed to derail Napoli if they meet City in the latter stages of the competition.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Quizzed on Guardiola's remarks after Napoli's 3-0 second-leg win against Eintracht, Spalletti told Amazon Prime Italia: "I don’t feel proud, I don’t feel anything. 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."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Spalletti was exuberant after progressing to the next round, but also urged his players to maintain the same attitude as the journey to a potential final in Istanbul is only going to get tougher. "It is a great result, we are going to enjoy it along with all our fans," he added. "Now it becomes fundamental that we maintain the same attitude we had this evening, because we didn’t have the same quality as usual at the start, but we still executed the moves well and allowed very little to the opposition. We kept clear heads. 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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WHAT NEXT FOR NAPOLI & MANCHESTER CITY? Spalletti will rally his troops against Torino away from home in Serie A on Sunday, while Manchester City will face Burnley in the FA Cup a day earlier.