Wednesday February 10 2016
Lippi: ‘Knew Juve would be back’

Marcello Lippi says he knew “Juventus were not a goner” and praises Napoli Coach Maurizio Sarri.

The Bianconeri had a poor start to the season, but have since put together a run of 14 Serie A wins in a row, leaving them two points behind Napoli, in second place.

“I was among those who warned: watch out for Juve, because they’re not a goner,” Lippi, a former Juventus Coach, reminded Il Giornale.

“I warned they’d be back to fight for the top spots, I know them well. The Bianconeri are solid, always compact and always look to get forward.

“Juve have a great squad, and usually those who are in front feel more fatigue, especially if they aren’t used to fighting for the Scudetto.”

Lippi was also on the bench with Napoli, and discussed this season’s Partenopei side.

“I don’t think it’s the best Napoli of all time, I still remember the team of [Diego] Maradona, [Bruno] Giordano and Careca.

“There’s a difference: that team depended on inspiration from its star players, this one enhances its champions.

“Sarri is someone you can’t fail to be impressed by, he has subverted the footballing stereotype that it takes seven or eight months to change the characteristics of a team.

“Last year Napoli scored plenty of goals, but they conceded a lot, and in the three months the Coach has fixed the situation.

“The Azzurri link all facets of the game, the defenders never kick it long and they have players who can cut you open in attack.

“[Lorenzo] Insigne comes deep, [Jose] Callejon goes toward the goal… they remind me of Barcelona.”

The Scudetto race now appears to be between the Old Lady and the Vesuviani, and the former Italy CT admits he’s surprised.

“Inter have amazed me,” Lippi confessed.

“The team started flying, after making a lot of changes in the summer and built-up a four point lead over Napoli, I never believed they could fall to fourth place.

“Milan have taken the opposite path. They had a lot of difficulty at the start, and now thanks to the intelligence of [Coach Sinisa] Mihajlovic, they’re slowly getting back on their feet.

“I really like M’Baye [Niang], I’m crazy about [Giacomo] Bonaventura and [Carlos] Bacca seems to be a phenomenon.”