Walter Mazzarri spoke to the press on the eve of Napoli’s decisive Champions League match against Braga
“We have to make it out of the group. That’s not up for discussion.”
“I said to the lads that there are no calculations to be made about the final result. Tomorrow we can’t think about anything other than winning and not conceding. They’re very good on the counter. We will have to be equally as good at defending tightly and not leaving any space for their attacks.
“We’ve really grown in terms of performance. Napoli have shown that they can play good football, we can see that clearly. What’s missing is the same balance between defending and attacking that they had last season.”
“There have been some clear, gradual improvements since I joined. I’d love nothing more than to qualify tomorrow and prove that we’re a solid team. We’ve become more tight-knit. We’re growing in terms of performance but now we need to win and show how far we’ve come.”
“What I’m asking, and what I’d like more than anything, is for us to convert our chances because we create a lot of them. We’ve scored very little compared to the chances we’ve created.”
Will you keep four players at the back? Or will you reduce it to three considering Mario Rui’s absence?
“When I came here, I really liked the idea of playing with four at the back. Now you’re all asking me about a three-man defence. I want to carry on down the path that the team took. Now we’ve got Natan on the left.
“He was used to playing in this kind of formation in Brazil. He’s growing and he’s able to get forward. I’m asking him to press because he’s able to do that too.”
“But beyond the formation, I want a solid team no matter who is on the pitch. It’s not just about defence but about all different departments being solid and balanced.
“The winners are always the team with the best defence. Having a solid defence makes the team feel safer because it allows our forwards to attack with peace of mind.”
“We’re working on this and that’s the tactical goal we’ve set. We want to reach it as soon as possible.”
Napoli creates chances but doesn’t score much. What does this come down to? Is it technical or psychological?
“Against Juventus we had seven shots but lately our shooting hasn’t been great and we’ve not been very precise. We need to work on that. If we can manage to break down our opponents over long stretches, we still need to be able to shoot and score.
“You’re not always going to be able to shoot from close range. Other big teams have shown that, and they often shoot from a distance. An example of that is what happened to us against Inter. We were dominating the game in the first half and had opportunities to score but they scored through their first shot from outside of the box.”
Are you worried about anything psychologically after three losses?
“I’ve seen that the lads need a psychological turning point to get back to feeling strong and in control. In the last few games we’ve suffered a mental blow every time we get ahead. That’s why it’s essential we get out of the group stage tomorrow and remain solid.
“We can’t make mistakes tomorrow. We need to be strong because when our positive results start coming in, the team needs to be able to show how good they are.”