With very little time to go before Napoli face Milan in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, coach Luciano Spalletti was clear about what he is looking for from his players. “This is the league of champions and champions don’t wallow in self-pity. I’m expecting a high-level performance with the same winning mentality we’ve had all season.”
How much will you miss Victor Osimhen?
“We’ve won big matches without him. He’s a huge player for us but we’ve still managed to progress in the Champions League even when Victor hasn’t been playing.
“Rather than bring him with us to Milan and risk him getting more seriously injured, we made some assessments with our upcoming games in mind, so we decided it would be better for him to rest up.
“We don’t have a list of good and less good players. Our team is about different complementary figures coming together to work well on the pitch.
“We’ve always played in the Napoli way, regardless of the opponents we have in front of us. I’m expecting that same approach tomorrow.
“These are the kinds of games that energise everyone. The whole world will be watching and everyone will bring out the best of what they have to offer.”
Will Giacomo Raspadori be playing?
“We’ll see tomorrow. Today, he had a less intense training session. He’ll try again tomorrow morning and we’ll decide who’ll be in the starting line-up.”
Is it the biggest game of your career?
“I hope that there’ll be even more important ones than this one. I’m speaking for myself and my players in that. We must think about where we’ve come from and take with us that same enthusiasm and desire that has set us apart on this journey.
“We weren’t better than Milan two weeks ago and we’re not any weaker now. Tomorrow, we’ll give everything to be better than our opponents. We’ll do so with passion and character, which in these games is more important than technical details.
“This is a big game for our future. We’ll be ready. This is the league of champions and we have many champions in this team.”
And finally, a word on Pep Guardiola.
“It makes me happy that someone like him has spoken so positively about Napoli. I don’t want my words to be misunderstood. It’d take me days to talk about the teams he’s managed because there’s so much good to say. Commenting on his career, I’d have to do a standing ovation. I have great respect for him.
“However, we’re now looking ahead to the match coming up and we hope that his compliments are deserved. Tomorrow, I want to see us playing and having fun out there, showing our enthusiasm. Perhaps then one day, Guardiola and I will enjoy a good laugh over Turkish coffee.”