Napoli are determined to leave Bologna with all three points to catapult themselves into the upper echelons of the Serie A standings, says Rudi Garcia.
After winning their first two games, the Azzurri have fallen off the pace somewhat following a defeat and a draw in their last two, but Sunday's match at the Stadio Dall'Ara offers an opportunity to address that.
“We have to make up points in the league,” the boss stated in no uncertain terms as he spoke at a media conference on Saturday.
“Tomorrow we'll be up against a very good, well-drilled side but we're going to Bologna to win and get back up near the top of the table.”
Tomorrow will be your 100th Serie A match as coach.
“I've been told that I'm hitting this milestone tomorrow. However, I'm more interested in winning my 100th game than looking back over the last 99. I'm very happy to coach this fantastic group of players. We're motivated and 100% focused on tomorrow's match.”
How close are you to getting the team to play the way you want them to?
"First of all, I hope to have a full squad to choose from and that hasn't been possible yet for various injury problems. Our idea of football is to be an attacking team. We've created a lot but not scored many so far. We've conceded five goals, which is a lot, but in actual fact we've conceded our opponents very few shots.
“I think it was only in the second half against Lazio that we messed up because that's where we lost the game. If we hadn't, we'd be closer to the position we should be. We were excellent in the first half against Lazio but we needed to take our chances better.”
What kind of match are you expecting tomorrow?
“Bologna are a good team. They have a really good coach whom I admired as a player. We're going there to win and we're focused on this very important match.”
Do you think the criticism has been too harsh?
“When I meet fans they encourage me and say they're behind me. Of course we're working to improve constantly. We beat Braga deservedly but ran too many risks because we didn't kill the game off. Winning in the Champion League is never easy and when you do it's always a great result.
“Now we must get back to our break and butter in Serie A and get points to climb back up the table.”
Will you rotate the squad tomorrow?
“I have really strong squad options, especially in attack. I can swap players around and mix up the way we play as well. We could rotate but we also have the option of bringing on fresh legs during the match.
“We have four matches in nine days now and it won't be possible to start and finish with the same 11 players. The lads know that and we'll need all of them to get through this run of games.
“Hopefully we'll be able to get Amir [Rrahmani] fit again soon. Unfortunately it's an injury that's partly down to his international commitments. In any case I have three defenders I can use. [Leo] Ostigard will come in for Amir and I have two left-footers in Juan Jesus and Natan who can do a great job.”
The statistics say that Napoli have given away very few chances to opponents. How do you explain the number of goals you've conceded?
“It means we've been unlucky and maybe we weren't determined enough on set-pieces. If we're able to defend well as a team, as we've shown from open play, there's good reason to believe we'll do better in future.”
What target has Aurelio De Laurentiis set for the season?
“A club like Napoli should be playing in the Champions League every year so we need to finish in the top four. Of course, when you're the reigning champion you want to do everything possible to defend your title.
“At the moment our aim is to win tomorrow because we're fifth at the moment and we want to be higher. We're thinking only about tomorrow's game because it's really important. We're not looking beyond that.”
What's your view on Victor Osimhen's current form?
"Victor is one of the best strikers in Europe and if he keeps getting the chances he's had so far I'm not at all worried because he'll score at least a goal every game. He just needs to keep calm because he's an incredibly talented player.”