Maurizio Sarri hit back at suggestions Napoli are “in crisis” after their defeat to Juventus, as Champions League qualification is in the balance against Feyenoord.
It kicks off on Wednesday at 19.45 GMT and the only hope of qualifying is to beat Feyenoord and Manchester City also defeat Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.
“It could be a decisive game, it could not, as it has nothing to do with the Serie A season,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“My lads have put together more points than any other Napoli team in history and tomorrow, with a bit of luck, we’ll be the first Napoli side to reach the Champions League Round of 16 for two seasons in a row.
“The longer the unbeaten spell, the more a defeat is painful. It certainly hurt, especially as we thought we deserved at least a draw with Juve, so the first two nights it wasn’t easy for anyone to sleep. After that, you shake it off and tomorrow’s game will tell us if we are great.
“However, this is certainly not a crisis. This team earned 206 points in 91 matches, an average of 2.27 per game. Now because we scored three goals in four matches, we have suddenly become hopeless?
“The lads have reacted, we just need to avoid losing confidence for one bad result after many months of success, especially as we pinned Juve back for most of the match.
“We put in a good performance and only struggled in the final third to turn possession into a result.”
That might be even more difficult against Feyenoord, as star forward Lorenzo Insigne is out injured.
“Seeing as people say I never change the line-up, I guess I’ll just have to play with 10 men,” joked Sarri.
“We lost Arek Milik, who was a very important player, and Faouzi Ghoulam at a time when he was the best left-back in Europe. Tomorrow we miss Insigne, but I am not complaining here. We must do well anyway.
“I think Feyenoord have improved over the last few weeks, so we cannot take this for granted.”
A victory wouldn’t necessarily be a guarantee of progress, because Napoli also need Manchester City to beat Shakhtar Donetsk. Did Sarri send a plea to his friend Pep Guardiola?
“I do exchange a few messages with him on football in general, but if I had written about tomorrow’s games, I would’ve offended him. We are certain that City will give their all. If Shakhtar progress, it’ll be to their credit.”