Luciano Spalletti has urged his players to “be stronger than our problems” as they prepare to face Leicester City knowing a win is needed if they are to progress to the knockout stages of the Europa League. Despite having to contend with a lengthy injury list and a recent lull in results, the coach remains confident his men have what it takes to defeat Brendan Rodgers' side.
“The team are playing well so I don't need to change anything from a tactical point of view,” the coach said at his pre-match press conference. “Of course when you play for Napoli and you get a few so-so results, the pressure starts to mount but we have to stay calm and keep believing in our ability.”
Are you worried about your midfield emergency?
“No. My only concern is to assess the mentality and energy my players are capable of producing on the pitch. And I'm more than satisfied in that area. Results can be determined by different in-game situations. I think we played better against Atalanta. I'm not thinking about the fact we lost but the attitude my team showed. We played well but there are key moments in every game and maybe if we'd gone into it with the right mindset we could have come away with a better result.”
This match is make or break for Napoli...
“Every match is make or break for us. We need to go out there each and every time and show how important this club is to us, regardless of the opposition. We know how good Leicester are and we're going to need a big performance. Our squad needs to be able to handle any sort of difficulty we're faced with, because every team has difficulties with the congested fixture list and all the international matches. We have to be stronger than everything. There are always problems around the corner and we need to deal with them. The players must summon everything they have for this match because we'll get no second chances. We have to win this game or we can forget about going on any more European trips. We must show the right character if we want to produce a top performance and write another memorable page in Napoli's European history book.”
Which players do you hope to have available again for tomorrow and Sunday's game?
“[Kostas] Manolas will be in the matchday squad tomorrow but he won't play the full game because we have to make sure the problem doesn't flare up again. We'll try to get Fabian [Ruiz[ and [Lorenzo] Insigne fit for Empoli but it won't be easy. In any case I have confidence in my team because I know they've got guts as well as talent.”