Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri says Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are “the best in Europe” as he seeks a way to beat them in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Speaking ahead of the second meeting between the two sides in a fortnight, after a 2-1 win for City at the Etihad Stadium, Sarri said he will not accept any more comparisons with the Catalan coach, whom he branded an “untouchable legend” ahead of this week’s clash at the Stadio San Paolo.
“He’s the best around — an untouchable legend,” Sarri said at a news conference at Castelvolturno. “I have my own ideas, but I haven’t won anything so I can’t be compared to anybody. If I were to quit now, nobody would remember me because I’ve not won anything.
“We’re talking about one of those coaches who have changed the way we view football. It’s a different level. They are the best team in Europe, coached by the best coach in Europe.”
Asked if that means they cannot be beaten, Sarri added: “No, because nobody is [unbeatable].”
He nevertheless knows his side need to be more careful than they were a fortnight ago, when they found themselves two goals down after just 13 minutes.
“Maybe we should ask UEFA if they can keep them off the field until the 21st minute,” Sarri joked. “They were outstanding at the start of the reverse fixture. We’re up against something huge and they are often two goals to the good after half an hour, so we’ve got to keep things tight because they’re not used to that.
“The start [of the game] is City’s strength. We’ve got to get straight into the game because we can create difficulty, as long as we play an extraordinary game defensively.”
However, he was giving little away about his plans, joking: “If I were to speak to you the way I speak to my team, it would be a constant beep [to cover the swearwords].”
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.
City’s Pep Guardiola the best coach in Europe – Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri – ESPN FC