De Laurentiis: Bayern seem unbeatable
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis knows his side faces a daunting task when they host red-hot Bayern Munich in tomorrow's UEFA Champions League Group A clash. Bayern have won 11 of their last 12 games without conceding a goal and will look for their third straight triumph in Europe at a sold-out San Paolo stadium tomorrow.
De Laurentiis knows the size of the challenge ahead of his players. "We face a team who have so far not given away a goal in the Champions League and who are dominating the Bundesliga," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Last year they were not as strong but this season they seem truly unbeatable."
Napoli go into the encounter looking to bounce back from Saturday's surprising 2-1 home loss to Parma that saw them drop to fifth in Serie A. As a result, De Laurentiis is well aware that Bayern are overwhelming favourites to claim maximum points in Naples, but he is confident his side can compete against them. "We will play to win," De Laurentiis said. "We will try to score the goal that no one has so far managed against Bayern."
Nevertheless, the Bavarians are showing Napoli enough respect with defender Holger Badstuber acknowledging that his side's excellent record this season is going to be under serious threat tomorrow night. "Napoli are going to be a hard nut to crack and we can expect it to be a hostile atmosphere," he told his club's official website.
"This game is going to stick in our memories, I am sure of that. They are very difficult to play against and have made a very good start to the season, even if they lost to Parma at the weekend. They are going to fight to the death and the fans will lift them to play a great game."
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has not conceded a goal in a club record 18 hours and 29 minutes and Badstuber insists he and his fellow defenders will do what they can to preserve that record. "It would be great if it were to continue," he said. "Our motivation is always to keep a clean sheet and if we don't concede again against Napoli then that would be a huge achievement. But it is not going to be easy and we are going to have to keep our concentration high for 90 minutes."
Including their qualifying matches with Zurich, Bayern have won all four games they have played in Europe this season. Napoli, coached by Walter Mazzarri, have shown good form in Europe too. They trail Bayern by two points after a 1-1 draw at Manchester City and a 2-0 triumph over Villarreal.
Mazzarri is expected to field the same line-up that lost to Parma with Marek Hamsik, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi leading Napoli's attack. Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes is still without the injured Arjen Robben and Breno, but has taken the rest of his squad to Naples with him.