Valverde wary of 'dangerous' Napoli in Champions League last 16

Napoli is in something of a rut at present but Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is not expecting an easy Champions League tie.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde felt that Napoli's domestic form shouldn't fool Barcelona when the teams clash in the Champions League round of 16.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde insists Napoli will be dangerous opponent in the Champions League last 16.

The Catalans were pitted against the Serie A side in Monday's knockout-stage draw in Nyon, with the first leg to take place at the San Paolo on February 25.

Napoli has endured a tough season domestically, its 2-1 loss at home to Parma on Saturday leaving them in eighth place, 18 points off leader Inter and Juventus.

Despite some poor league results, which led to Carlo Ancelotti's departure as head coach and the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso, Napoli finished Champions League Group E unbeaten and is the only team to have beaten holder Liverpool in any competition this season.

Valverde believes Barca will need to be at its sharpest if it is to progress to the quarterfinals, even though his side triumphed 4-0 in its most recent meeting in pre-season.

"Napoli are a dangerous team," he told Barca TV. "Clearly, they're not going through their best moment. They've had a change of coach and they'll have to adapt bit by bit.

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"We'll see how they are and how everyone is heading into February, but without a doubt, we'll have to prepare for the tie really well.

"It'll be a strong atmosphere, with a big stadium, one of those where the fans are very close. But that's fine. In that sense, we're used to playing in front of atmospheres of this kind and it'll be beautiful to experience everything in general around Napoli as a city."

Gattuso, meanwhile, has promised Napoli will go into the tie determined to give a strong account of itself.

"Barcelona are a great team and it will be a big challenge across two fascinating games," he said. "We'll show no fear."

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