Luciano Spalletti admits Napoli ‘need to push harder’ after their 2-0 win away to Salernitana, hails Alex Meret and recognises the team has ‘an unprecedented opportunity’ to win the Scudetto.
The Partenopei rarely looked to be in danger of dropping points at the Stadio Arechi, scoring either side of half-time with Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Victor Osimhen.
Krzysztof Piatek forced a couple of Alex Meret saves, including one he fingertipped onto the inside of the upright, but Napoli reach the midway stage of the season with an extraordinary 50 points from an available 57.
Only Juventus had previously managed to both achieve 50 points and win their Champions League group, doing this in 2005-06 and in 2018-19.
“You need both the mental and technical aspects of the game. Matches like this can be affected by various psychological aspects, but above all you need to play good football,” Spalletti told DAZN.
“Tempo, it’s all about the tempo. In the first half we tended to get crowded in the middle of the park and ran the risk of being caught on the counter, but we happened to score those two goals and turned the game in our direction.
“We controlled the tempo in the second half and kept our balance, but need to push harder and speed things up in future.”
The opening goal was created when Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa got to the by-line and pulled back for Di Lorenzo.
“That is a move that creates danger in the opposition defence. Before that, we were too one-note, it’s important to have these moments of creativity, change of pace and quality that can make the difference.”
Di Lorenzo has really stepped up as captain of Napoli this season and this was his first away goal in almost two years.
“He is a fundamental figure for us. He deserved the captain’s armband and everyone agreed when I suggested him for the role. He is crucial for his focus, what he says to his teammates, the effort he puts in training or on the field. These are the signals he sends and we have several like Di Lorenzo who take on responsibility and share it with their teammates.”
There were only two real Alex Meret saves on Krzysztof Piatek, including one fingertip push onto the inside of the far post in the final minutes.
“You can never relax in football, just look at what happened when if not for Meret saving us it would’ve been 2-1 and very complicated in those final minutes. We must congratulate Meret for an extraordinary save after a good 70 minutes under the rain of barely seeing the ball. When you are outside the game for so long and then get that one moment, you have to be at an exceptional level of psychological preparation.
“He also had a slight fever last night, so that made it even more impressive. Maturity becomes fundamental and we saw the team was mature in the second half, because it realised scoring a goal was important, but even more so was no conceding and we ran very few risks.”
Neapolitans are famously superstitious and Spalletti is eager not to say the word ‘Scudetto’, but he cannot shy away from the fact they are at least nine points clear at the midway stage and amassed 550 points from a possible 57.
“We know that we have an unprecedented opportunity and we must behave appropriately. Our attitude must be not to waste the opportunities we have, still playing our football, remaining humble and professional.”