Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti entered his press conference on Friday with two roses in hand, as a way of honouring the memory of Mahsa Amini e Hadis Najafi, the two women who were killed in Iran.
He was speaking ahead of his side’s match against Torino on Saturday and he’s hoping for more of the same from his players. “We need to be consistent in our performances and results. Tomorrow will be a very tough match, but we want to win.”
How have the players been since returning from the international break?
“When players join their national sides, we follow them every day from a distance. It’s also been good for some of the lads who’ve had less game time with us to get a chance to play. There have been no issues. It’s just a normal part of the season.
“We know what our objective is. Today, everyone was focused and ready for tomorrow’s game. Every match shows how well we are doing. There’s a long journey ahead and each game requires us to give our all so that we have the right attitude going forward.”
Who will play out of Giovanni Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori?
“I think they’ll both get a shot. We’ll see who’ll play an hour and who half an hour, but that will be determined by how things are going to work on the pitch. We’ll think carefully about which players start and who is on the bench.
“To get to where we want to be, we need men with playing time, energy and motivation. We need all those things. We have to get used to the idea that more lads can play during a match by making the most of the five substitutions we have available to us. Playing 20 minutes can be more significant than playing 70 because it might just help us win.”
At the moment, the battle for the title seems wide open and fairly even, with lots of teams in the mix:
“I think it will remain fairly even for a long time at the top because at least seven teams have got what it takes to finish in a strong position. There are also always some unexpected clubs that can do well. I believe it’s too early right now to name the favourites.”
Will Raspadori remain in the centre-forward position or swap to second striker after his last two games for Italy?
“It always depends on the kind of game that you are facing or how it develops. Raspadori doesn’t have the physical presence of Osimhen or Simeone. He’s not a target man but he’s a great player who knows how to do everything. We bought him because we know his qualities. He has great reactions, knows where the goal is, he’s technically gifted, has great personality and a real desire to improve. Raspa is ambitious like us and he’ll certainly not sit back after having some success. He wants to become a star.”
Did the win in Milan change how you envisage this season going?
“Winning against the Italian champions and against a side who played really well is definitely something we’re pleased with. However, talent is never enough. We need to be well-organised and ready even if a game isn’t going to plan.
“For sure, the team showed that our level of football is at the standard required to meet our expectations. We want to stay right up there to the end. It’s crowded up top and we need to remain in the mix.
“We’ve made a good start. Now, we need to continue on that path, especially when it comes to our mental approach, not just in terms of results. The key thing is to be able to overcome any periods in the game where it perhaps isn’t going our way. We must know what it means to wear this shirt. We are surrounded by adoring fans and their passion must transmit onto the pitch.”
What kind of game are you expecting and what problems can Il Toro pose?
“Torino are tricky customers. We know how good they are and how hard their coach works. Juric always gets results during the season because he always has precise ideas. They’re a team that know how to attack and defend, winning battles across the pitch. That shows how tough it’s going to be, but we want to win these difficult games and measure up to great sides.”
Are you thinking about making changes tomorrow?
“Between now and Tuesday, we will have to rotate some players around because we have two matches in four days. However, I don’t think we’ll be making big changes from what we’ve been used to tomorrow because all the lads are fit for the game.
“What matters is delivering on our ideas and doing so daily. My players know as well as I do what we need to do and what ideas we have. I’d like to see some more consistency in our play. When you have lots of possession, you need to know when the right time is to make a move. This is the kind of maturity that we need to develop, especially the younger players. I have a lot of confidence that we can make this leap.”