Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis would like to see some key players rested against Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash with Inter Milan in Serie A.
“Those players that have been compiling a lot of minutes should be rested a bit in this match to keep them fresh,” De Laurentiis told Monday’s Gazzetta dello Sport. “The match with Inter is just as important.”
City, which is top of the Premier League and won its last game 7-2 against Stoke, leads Group F of the Champions League with six points, three ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli. Feyenoord is last with zero.
Napoli lost its group opener 2-1 to Shakhtar before beating Feyenoord 3-1. In Serie A, Napoli has won eight from eight games at the start of the season and is on course for a first title since Diego Maradona led the southern club to its only two league championships in 1987 and 1990.
“In Europe we should worry only about advancing, not winning all of the matches,” De Laurentiis said. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola suggested it was mind games from De Laurentiis.
“Do I believe it? Absolutely not,” Guardiola said at his pre-match news conference. “I can announce to you which players will play.”
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri has been known to ignore De Laurentiis’ frequent advice. “You’ve got to evaluate everything and know how to use the right strategy,” De Laurentiis added. “I’m fortunate to have a coach who is a great strategist.”
De Laurentiis hoped recent comments from Guardiola, who reportedly said Napoli plays the most beautiful football in Europe, would not distract his players.
“(Guardiola) is an old wolf and he knows full well that he’s got a great side,” De Laurentiis said. “It could be an impossible match for us to win.”
Guardiola, who has also said Napoli is one of the three best teams in Europe, responded: “It is just what I believe. I believe they are a really good team in all senses but if the president prefers to hear they are a disaster team, I can say that as well.”