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New boss Garcia plays down Napoli’s Serie A title hopes

Napoli coach Rudi Garcia. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

New Napoli coach Rudi Garcia said on Friday his side were not “the favourites” for Serie A this season ahead of the start of their title defence against Frosinone on Saturday.

The Frenchman replaced Luciano Spalletti in the dug-out after the Italian left Napoli having led the club to their first Scudetto in 33 years last term.

Napoli fans will be hoping for another strong title challenge, especially as star forwards Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have stayed at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

“My goal — it’s simple — is to bring this team to the level I know they’re capable of playing,” Garcia told a pre-match press conference.

“I am calm, I am focused on my team to give them everything they need so that they can win matches.

“As champions, a lot is expected of us. We are among the favourites but we are not the favourites.”

Garcia is back in Italy for the first time since being sacked by Roma in 2016, having previously led the capital club to successive runner-up finishes in Serie A behind Juventus.

“I’m very, very happy to be back in Italy, it’s a pleasure to be back in Serie A,” he added.

“I’m even quite impatient, because I want to see if there have been any changes (in terms of play and tactics).

“I think there have been and I’ll see that. I think Serie A has become even more attacking.”

Napoli, who finished 16 points clear of second-placed Lazio last season, have signed forward Giacomo Raspadori from Sassuolo in the close season and given Giovanni Simeone a permanent deal following his successful loan from Verona.

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