Maurizio Sarri told off Napoli for concentrating more on Serie A than the Coppa Italia after their exit to Atalanta. “We were tip-toeing.”
Timothy Castagne and Papu Gomez got the decisive goals at the Stadio San Paolo, before a late Dries Mertens consolation header, as the Orobici go through to face Juventus or Torino in the Semi-Final.
“We are having an extraordinary season, but admittedly suffered more in Cup competitions due to our characteristics,” the Coach told Rai Sport.
It has been said many times that the Partenopei are focusing more on Serie A and the Scudetto, but he insists it’s not by choice.
“We’ve always struggled against Atalanta, even with a full-strength side, perhaps because they are such a physical opponent.
“In terms of chances, I’d say it was an even match, but we did pretty well in the first half. After the break, the team was distracted and had its head in the clouds. I didn’t like that attitude. We were practically tip-toeing through the game.
“The next time we face Atalanta, we must be ferocious both in attack and defence, otherwise we will struggle again.
“The team does concentrate more in Serie A and that is a mistake. When you rotate the squad, it becomes a great idea if you win, but if you lose then everyone attacks you. In any case, I liked the performance tonight less when we had the first-choice players on the field.”
Sarri and his friend Pep Guardiola have both complained at the packed fixture lists, but the Napoli Coach has a different idea.
“I don’t agree with reducing the size of Serie A, because we’d remove top flight football from so many cities around the country. If anything, I’d reduce the number of international games, or at least consolidate them all from the end of April for six weeks.
“It’s anachronistic to think a player who costs the club €2m per year can go off to play against Cyprus, Andorra or Gibraltar. There ought to be levels of international competition too.”