UEFA Europa League


Luciano Spalletti has urged his Napoli side to bring their league form into Europe as they prepare for the Europa League visit of Spartak Moscow on Thursday.

“We need to maintain consistency in our results in Europe,” said the Azzurri boss, who was appearing at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “I expect to see the same type of performance we’ve shown thus far. We’ve maintained a constant level and we’ve been making the most of the five substitutions. We’re also getting players back from injury through personalised programmes.

“I have a squad full of players who are willing to do what’s asked of them. Their enthusiasm is helping us to train well. I’ll have virtually a full squad tomorrow. We know we need to give 100% in order to continue our run of positive results.”

Spalletti warned that Spartak Moscow would provide Napoli with a stern test at the Stadio Maradona on Thursday evening.

“Spartak lost their first game but they didn’t deserve to based on the quality they showed,” he said. “They have the ability and desire to bounce back, so we have a very intense, tough match ahead of us. It’s a massive game for them in terms of staying in the hunt for qualification. European competitions are really important in Russia, so I’m expecting them to give everything and battle hard.

“The result we got at Leicester was important from a mental perspective. We kept our composure even after going two goals down, then showed character and mentality. That’s what we need moving forward. We have to get into the mindset of viewing every match as one we want to win, without overthinking things.”

The Napoli boss went on to underline the importance of having the Partenopei faithful back in the stadium this season.

“It’s essential for us to have that close human relationship with our fans,” he said. “We can always feel the passion of the Napoli fans, though, even when they’re not at the stadium. There’s total alignment between the city and the team.”

Last but not least, Spalletti responded to Lorenzo Insigne’s suggestion that the squad is enjoying itself more under his management.

“I enjoy it a bit less – I only enjoy it when we win because I know that in football what counts is what you achieve tomorrow, not today,” said the coach. “That’ll just be my background talking, but you never know what the next game is going to bring. It’s important to reset and keep the same level of focus in every game.”

(Photo LaPresse)