Sunday April 22 2018
Sarri: 'Blasphemy to change Napoli'

Maurizio Sarri beat Juventus with the usual Napoli because “it’d be blasphemous to change the football that brought us here” and explained his rude gesture to fans.

The Partenopei closed the gap at the top of the table to just one point with four rounds to go, as Kalidou Koulibaly soared to nod in a Jose Callejon corner in the final minute.

“It wasn’t perfect, no. If we had raised the tempo a bit earlier, we could’ve finished it quicker,” the Coach told Mediaset Premium.

“We wanted to come here, take the initiative and force Juventus to play only on the counter-attack. We only ever allowed them something on set plays, as they are more physical, but otherwise we controlled the match and the victory was a logical consequence of that.

“So far, I’m having fun. We made our extraordinary fans happy, but Juventus remain ahead and therefore almost nothing has changed. We still have a very slim chance of overtaking them.

“Winning here is always very difficult and marvellous, above all for the joy it gives our fans. It’s enormously satisfying, but we have to be clear-headed enough to see it as one match and realise it changes very little in the wider scheme of things.”

A few weeks ago, Sarri had said he wanted to “march on the palace and take back power,” so has he achieved that?

“In terms of results, Juventus represent the power, as they’ve won the title for six seasons in a row and currently are still top of the table.

“They are the team who represent Serie A, the side everyone wants to beat and therefore the most satisfying to beat.”

Sarri resisted numerous calls to revamp his team and system, introducing Arkadiusz Milik and Piotr Zielinski for Dries Mertens and Marek Hamsik, or even to use a 4-2-3-1 formation.

“Unfortunately, I don’t hear suggestions because I barely read or watch any media. I listen to the opinion of my nephew and that’s it.

“It seemed to me blasphemous to come here and change the football that had brought us here, to play Juventus on level terms. I did intend to shake things up in the final 20-25 minutes, but their changes to bulk up the midfield suggested it was unwise to be out-manned in that area.”

Sarri has always tried to quiet down Scudetto talk throughout the campaign and isn’t changing his tune now.

“I have always said Napoli at this moment of history cannot plan for success, as there are economically stronger clubs. We can plan the technical and tactical growth of a team, which can take us to 105 per cent of our potential, but we can’t guaranteed results.

“We’ve seen this team grow over the years in terms of tactics, technique and also mentality. We played totally without fear in one of the toughest stadiums in Europe and that’s a positive sign.”

There was an ugly incident before the match, as Sarri was spotted flipping his middle finger at a group of Juventus supporters as the team bus drove past.

“I replied to a group of people who were spitting at the bus and insulting us for being Neapolitan. I would never make a gesture like that towards anyone for being a Juventus fan.

“The vast majority of Juventus fans are wonderful people and there was one in our hotel who we had a good laugh and joke with. I have no issue with Juventus fans. It was only with those who spat at us and insulted us for being Neapolitan.”

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