Arrigo Sacchi stood up for Napoli Coach Maurizio Sarri after defeat to Real Madrid. “We should all be thankful that they represent Italy.”
Napoli had taken the lead against another Spanish side, Champions League holders Real Madrid, before capitulating 3-1.
“I think all of Italy should thank Napoli and Sarri,” Sacchi told La Gazzetta dello Sport after President Aurelio De Laurentiis’ criticism.
“They are doing something extraordinary. The way they play is also appreciated by the opposition and that is an important sign. Everyone says it, the team that plays the best football is Napoli. They are entertaining and we must be proud that a side like this is representing Italy.
“De Laurentiis has done so much for Napoli, taking them from Serie C to the Bernabeu. He invested a great deal and the club has become big, even if not at the top yet. But De Laurentiis must be more generous and more prudent in certain comments.
“Real Madrid won because of that furious pressing game that did not allow Napoli to express themselves the way they usually do.
“The Spaniards have greater individual technique, but when you see people like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos working their socks off, it means there’s teamwork behind it.
“Perhaps Napoli let themselves get intimidated by Real Madrid and it’s understandable, like singing at La Scala…
“However, I think they can turn this around. If Sarri’s boys force Real on the defensive, then we could all have a lot of fun. The important thing is that Napoli move a lot, even off the ball, when attacking, to constantly change position.
“I have noticed that in Europe defence is just pressing. If you get past that first line, you have immense spaces opening up. We must make the most of that weakness.”