Luciano Spalletti was at pains to stress the quality of Napoli's next opponents Udinese as they prepare for their final game before the World Cup break.

While Napoli's winning run now stretches to ten games, Udinese's form has slipped a little in recent weeks – but they have still only lost one of their last 15 games.

“Udinese are anything but a banana skin,” the coach explained. "Udinese are a difficult team – it's that simple. They've beaten Fiorentina, Roma and Inter this season. If some people still see Udinese as a second-class team, it's none of my players. They're a top-class side. I remember speaking to Cristiano Giuntoli in August and we both thought Udinese were one of the best-equipped sides in Serie A.

"We've looked carefully at Udinese's counter-attacking play,. They have players who can turn defence into attack in an instant and we know all about them. It's a game we need to attack ferociously and play with real grit and determination because we're up against an excellent team.”

Napoli now have an eight-point lead over the nearest challenger. Does that change anything from a mental perspective?

“We have to keep on doing the same things as always. We know exactly how we want to play regardless of our opponents or our league position. We saw on Tuesday that no game is easy, especially as Empoli play such good football.

“It's still early to be talking about league positions because there are another 72 points to play for. We must keep working and training hard, focusing on the here and now.

“We must try to keep performing the way we have been, with our strengths, our skills and playing style. Anything else is relative because we have to keep our eyes on the path in front of us.

Are you happy Frank Anguissa has signed a new contract?

“I asked Frank if he was happy with his contract and he told me he'll be happy if we win tomorrow. That tells you where our focus lies.”

Do you see any particular dangers on the horizon?

“Not at the moment but we'll deal with any dangers as and when they arise. I'm not going to go looking for them! We must take everything in our stride with a smile, and keep playing our game. I can see the balance being restored at the top of the table. I think it's going to be a real scrap with lots of clubs involved.”

How will you deal with the break?

"We'll use the time to maintain our fitness. We'll work with the players individually too – it certainly won't be a holiday. I talk to all the players every day and try to get the best out of each of them.

"We're a third of the way through the season and we'll use the break to try to improve. I'm sure this time will help us grow. We know we have to use the time we have intelligently and train as well as we can. The club and I have worked out what we think is the best way to become an even better team.

“In Francesco Sinatti we have one of the best fitness coaches I've ever known and I've very happy to work with him. As for where we'll go, we've considered all the logistics and the organisation scenarios so that we can work in the best conditions possible.”

Napoli are widely considered to be the team who have made best use of their squad this season, with no fewer than 13 different scorers in Serie A this term.

“That means we've used more players than other teams and we have a strong squad made up of intelligent, professional lads. My players know they need to work even harder when they don't' play so that they can be decisive when they come on.

“I have a group of indiviudals with the Napoli cause at heart. They love this club and they want to give the fans the joy they deserve.”

A 50,000 crowd is expected for the game against Udinese.

"A full Stadio Maradona is an exciting thought. The roar of our crowd gives us that extra bit of energy that can always make the difference. We're thrilled that our fans are so passionate and involved. We want to keep moving forward together.”

Finally, the coach was also asked about the 'soft' penalty awarded against Empoli.

“Any controversy surrounding that penalty is nothing to do with us because everyone can see we want to play good football and entertain our fans. What I can say about that penalty is it's very similar to the one given to Lecce against us. But as I said, with the football we've playing, it's not the sort of controversy we should be embroiled in.”

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