Rudi Garcia spoke in his press conference about the test that awaits his team against Lazio on Saturday and also reflected on the club’s Champions League draw.
“We have a chance to keep up our 100% record tomorrow and to keep one of our rivals, Lazio, at a safe distance,” explained the boss.
What is your reaction to the Champions League draw?
“The draw could’ve been better and it also could’ve been worse. I’m really pleased to be playing against Real Madrid, first of all because they’re a great side and it’s also a fitting return for me as when Roma qualified for the last 16 in 2016, I was supposed to face Real Madrid but I wasn’t allowed to.”
You’ve faced and beaten Maurizio Sarri many times in your career, including the Champions League win with Lyon over Juve. Are you worried he’ll be out for revenge tomorrow?
“This is a match between two teams, Napoli and Lazio, rather than a match between coaches. Tomorrow is a match that we want to win. Our aim is to keep up our 100% record as that would allow us to take points off Lazio, who are a direct rival of ours.”
What do you make of the arrival of Jesper Lindstrom?
“He’s a player who we’ve signed for footballing reasons and as a future prospect. I’m happy for Jesper. He has so much quality, which he’s already shown at club and international level.
“He can play in several attacking positions, both as a winger and closer to the striker. He has pace and the ability to provide different options in attack.
“I want to clear up the fact that I have total faith for the players already in the squad and I then gradually ensure that the new arrivals can settle in. That’s how I am and it’s important to me that I explain it. After the break, we’ll have games coming thick and fast and everyone will need to be ready to give their all.”
What’s the latest on Kvara?
“He’s doing well. He’s had a busy week of training and we’ll see if he plays tomorrow.”
What’s your assessment of the first two league games?
“We did well to give very little away against Frosinone and Sassuolo. The win over Frosinone took on greater significance after they beat Atalanta. We stood our ground for the first hour against Sassuolo when it was still 11 against 11.
“We certainly need to improve in terms of finishing. We’re carving out plenty of chances but we’re not making the most of them. What matters to me giving little away because we need to get the balance right in order to achieve our target.”
Based on the first few games, there seems to be a different role in the team for Stanislav Lobotka compared with previously. Is that true or just a feeling?
“I play my football and I don’t know about the past. Lobotka is a key cog in our team, but I like the fact that even if the opposition blocks a source of our play, we’re still able to express ourselves in a similar way. I’d like all the midfielders in my team to be able to help build the play. If Lobotka has fewer touches of the ball for various reasons, it’s important that a different team-mate can get more touches in order to keep the balance.”
What do you fear about Lazio?
“They’re a quality side that need points having lost their first two games. I don’t know what we should expect in tactical terms – maybe they’ll keep it tight. I always try to manage games by looking at my team. In this regard, we aren’t at 100% yet in terms of fitness because some of the players started preparing for the season later than others.
“We feel that we need to be in it for the long term because there are no breaks this season, not even over Christmas. We can’t just think about 11 starters but we need a squad where we’re able to share out the minutes and energy levels.”
What’s your assessment of your first few months in Naples?
“I’m pleased to be working at this club. I’m learning about the city and the situation here, but right now what matters is winning games and trying to keep our winning start going tomorrow. I’m motivated and pleased with the work that we’ve put in so far. We’re developing constantly and we’re on the right path.
“We’ll battle to stay at the top until the end. There are so many teams competing to be at the top and we need to focus on ourselves and our strengths.”