Barcelona boss Quique Setien admits the club’s recent traumatic exits from the Champions League will be on the player’s minds.
The Blaugrana have suffered humbling exits from the competition in successive seasons after securing sizable advantages in the first legs of their Camp Nou games, before collapsing away from home.
Last season, the Catalan giants were blown away 4-0 at Anfield by Liverpool after they had a three-goal lead from the first leg.
That followed on from a similarly catastrophic outcome against Roma 12 months prior, when Ernesto Valverde’s side blew a 4-1 first leg lead to lose 3-0 in the Italian capital and exit the competition at the quarter-final stage.
Barcelona have not reached a Champions League final in five seasons and have lifted the trophy just once in the last nine years, and start this season’s knockout stages at Napoli on Tuesday night.
“The reality is that very little has been said about those games, although surely everyone has it in mind,” Setien admitted in his pre-match press conference, as cited by Marca.
“Perhaps it is not comparable. I think the team is fine, like us. I trust that we continue in this dynamic and I believe we can give the levels of performances we have done for a long time.”
The trip to southern Italy will be Setien’s first ever game in charge of a Champions League game: “There is no doubt that it is my first Champions League game and it gives me even more motivation. It is emotional for me to start this journey in a stadium like this, full of passion and history. I think it will be an exciting game.
“We have already seen what Napoli are capable of doing. They will give us an extraordinary version.”
Setien was then asked about his star player Lionel Messi playing in Napoli, where his fellow Argentine Diego Maradona became an icon.
“Leo is a great footballer, who has been doing what he does every game for 14 or 15 years,” added Setien.
“This is the difference I see. We have not seen a player with such continuity as Leo has. I also enjoyed Maradona very much, like with Johan Cruyff. They are the ones who made us love this sport.”