Marek Hamsik believes “it’s our turn” to win the Scudetto and reveals the hard work that goes into Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli style.
The Partenopei captain sat down with German site Sport1.de to discuss the campaign and Thursday’s Europa League meeting with RB Leipzig.
“Right from the first moment I was here, I understood that football means everything to the Neapolitans. It's like a religion or a disease that accompanies you every day.
"After so many years I have developed a very special relationship with the fans. I really like the way it works. There is a lot of love between us. Naples has the sea, the sun, you can eat well - you can even go skiing here."
The style of football introduced by Coach Sarri has won plaudits all over the world, but it seems there is a reason why he is so reticent to use new signings.
“It’s beautiful to watch, but hard to implement. You have to run a lot, push hard. This is not a simple football. If we win back the ball, then we can focus on our strength – possession. So we have fun when we attack - but when we defend, we also have to run a lot.
“During the week we always play in training with just two touches of the ball. So we're aiming to move the ball fast. But if our strikers are in possession of the ball, then they may go into dribbling.
“Sarri is a passionate smoker, that's really incredible. I have never seen anyone who smokes so much. Thank God he has to hold back during games!
“When we are on the pitch, he demands the highest concentration and wants us to give everything. Off the field, he is relaxed, jokes and is very sociable.”
Hamsik recently became Napoli’s all-time top scorer, surpassing the legend Diego Armando Maradona.
“Of course we all know that Diego means a lot to this city. He is number 1 and will stay there forever. However, we must and want to fade that myth a bit by winning. It's been a long time since Napoli won anything - so it would be wonderful if we could revive those times.
“For us Neapolitans, Diego is always number one. There are no similarities between us. He was a forward with imagination. I am a different footballer and man, and I am satisfied with it. Unfortunately I was too young to see Maradona on the pitch. Although I watched some games with him later, I grew up with other idols.”
Maradona’s era was the last time Napoli won the Scudetto, but they are the favourites, albeit only one point ahead of Juventus.
“We've completed more than half the championship and run a neck-and-neck race with Juventus. Other clubs had to let us go. Maybe it will never happen again in the years to come - that's why we'll try everything to win it this season.
“Juve is a world class club that has an excellent squad worth €600m. We can’t compare with that. But we are on the verge of doing something incredible and want to beat them. I'm sure, this time it's our turn.”