Wednesday February 21 2018
Sarri: 'Napoli played like buffoons'

Maurizio Sarri admits Napoli played “like buffoons” against RB Leipzig and want to make up for it in the Europa League, but “our fans are only interested in the Scudetto.”

The first leg was a 3-1 home defeat and the decider is in Germany at 18.00 GMT.

“We played like buffoons in the first leg and 70 per cent of that is my fault, 10 per cent the club, 10 per cent the players and 10 per cent the staff,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“It certainly wasn’t the fault of the reserve players, because we had our worst part of the performance when the first choice players came on.

“Tomorrow we must step on to the field with the desire to win and prove ourselves. Hopefully the incidents can go our way, so we can have a shot at qualification.”

Dries Mertens was suspended for the first leg and could well start tomorrow, while Sarri had high praise for Piotr Zielinski.

“I think Mertens is available, but will only check the fitness levels tomorrow morning. Zielinski is a pure talent. He also has great physical qualities and can play in any area of the pitch. He’ll be the new Kevin De Bruyne.

“I don’t know what percentage we have of qualifying, but it’s obvious Leipzig are over-riding favourites. We don’t play differently at home or away, but we need to make up for the first leg and have a little bit of madness to think we can qualify.

“Last Thursday’s performance was a bolt from the blue for me as well. At the San Paolo, we simply weren’t able to recharge our batteries after the Serie A match. At the moment we are a little short-staffed too, so that doesn’t help.

“However, it’s obvious the team is playing with heart and determination in Serie A, whereas we can’t do that in other competitions. It’s a step up this team must make, probably once we increase the squad and are more able to handle several different tournaments.

“I don’t think the fans are divided, as they are focused on Serie A because Napoli haven’t won there in 30 years, but we mustn’t be influenced by what the fans want. We must push the fans forward and charge them up. I will admit, right now our fans are only interested in the Scudetto.”

RB Leipzig went above and beyond with their hospitality by building a new wall to allow Sarri a smoking section in the locker room and switching off smoke detectors.

“We always ask for a different room for the staff, seeing as there wasn’t one. If they allow us to smoke, then that’s even better…”

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