Serie A TIM

SPALLETTI: "WE MUST RISE TO THE CHALLENGE"

Luciano Spalletti believes there has not been a better team than Napoli so far this season, saying his side will have to produce their best to secure victory. The two teams face off at Stadio San Paolo on Saturday afternoon, both looking to secure a victory that would give them a significant advantage over the other in the ongoing battle at the top of the table. Juventus might be the team out in front so far, but Spalletti believes Napoli have been just as impressive.

"Napoli are the best team in the league," Spalletti said. "Together with a couple of other sides, they have been the best. In terms of balance, reacting to situations, consistency, quality and depth in defence and attack, there is no one better. Their coach [Maurizio Sarri] has proven his ability: he is a clever man. They have a strong team. A few others are doing well too, like Sassuolo and Chievo Verona who are playing good football and looking to get the most out of games without dropping their level. We haven't been at top form in a few matches. Tomorrow we have to produce our best performance."

That is not to say that Spalletti feels his side are inferior to Napoli, only that the Giallorossi still need to show a higher level of consistency: "We're not on the peg below Napoli, we're on the same level," he clarified. "We're right up there with them, but they have one more point than us which means they've produced that little bit extra. Last year we beat them, but they didn't deserve to lose and could easily have won themselves. It was a contest played between two top sides, who both performed spectacularly on the pitch. I hope it reaches the same standard this time as well. There are many difficult fixtures, last time out against Inter for example. I want to get better and these matches are the occasion to do so. However, it will be tough because they are strong." 

Spalletti senses Saturday's match could change the tone of the campaign for the winning side: "Tomorrow is an important game," he said. "It's an opportunity to write our own future and the only way to do that is by doing things well, showing our qualities and getting the result. There will be other big matches to come, but your ability to match Juventus step-by-step changes fundamentally by how you come out of these fixtures. It will be a great occasion and we have to make sure we're ready for it."

(Photo LaPresse)

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