Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has made no secret of his admiration of Italian champions-elect Napoli. The Catalan has been quick to praise the runaway Serie A leaders for the way they have played under the guidance of Luciano Spalletti and he is looking forward to the Partenopei securing the Serie A title.
Napoli are 17 points ahead of Lazio in the Serie A table ahead of Matchday 32, and they could seal their first Italian championship since 1989/90 with a victory against Salernitana in addition to the Aquile dropping points against Inter.
Guardiola spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport, as reported by TuttoMercatoWeb, and the 52-year-old focused on the Champions League quarter-final tie between Napoli and AC Milan, particularly the second leg in Naples.
Guardiola enjoys Napoli’s style of play
Aside from when Napoli were thrashed 4-0 by AC Milan in Serie A, the matches between the two sides have been tight affairs. However, despite the result going in favour of the Rossoneri, it was the Partenopei’s style of play that impressed the Manchester City coach.
“I saw the match against AC Milan and Napoli impressed me,” Guardiola said.
“Those against AC Milan have always been very close matches this year. You win or lose by narrow margins which then make the difference.”
Guardiola backs Napoli to impress again in the Champions League
Guardiola was asked if Napoli were perhaps overhyped ahead of their quarter-final elimination from the Champions League, then being knocked out earlier than many had expected, but the Catalan coach still believes in their quality.
“No, because I saw them and I was impressed with the way they played,” Guardiola said.
“Napoli will win the scudetto. And we will see next year what they do again in the Champions League. AC Milan also played well, then a penalty could have been given to Napoli, but it was a very hard-fought match.”
Although it was a close tie and Napoli fans might wonder what could have been, this was still the best result in the Champions League for the Partenopei.
In the old European Cup, Napoli were eliminated by Real Madrid in the first round in 1987/88, and three seasons later, Spartak Moscow knocked them out on penalties in the Round of 16.
Throughout the Champions League era, Napoli reached the Round of 16 in 2011/12, 2016/17, and 2019/20, but they surpassed that when they eliminated Eintracht Frankfurt in this season’s Round of 16 tie.