Nepoli coach Gennaro Gattuso says Barcelona are ‘reborn’ under new coach Quique Setien and claims it is impossible to stop Lionel Messi.

The Italian side host Barca in the teams’ Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday at the San Paolo, with both Gattuso and Setien making their coaching debuts in the continental competition.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Monday, Gattuso said: “I don’t know if it’s tthe worst debut possible. We are up against a very good team. They have a great team.

“They are reborn with Setien. We want to play a great game, but it will be tough.”

Asked about Setien, he said: “I love him. I have followed him since he was at Las Palmas. He has a very modern vision of football, with touch play but also a defensive system. He’s a great coach.”

“They play with 11 men, the goalkeeper included, so it’s difficult to press them. They have numerical superiority thanks to the goalkeeper. It’s incredible. I’m impressed by how they attack spaces.”

Gattuso was also asked if Messi could be stopped and said: “Honestly, no. We can’t make the mistake of thinking Barca is just Messi.

“Thinking about stopping Messi with man-marking makes no sense. Barca are an enormous team.”

Messi will be playing for the first time at the San Paolo, scene of Diego Maradona’s greatest moments at club level.

“Diego is the god of football,” Gattuso said. “I never saw him play in person. I know what he was. I missed out on something wonderful, without doubt.”


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