Carlo Ancelotti was critical of Napoli after a 5-1 victory. “We were rewarded well, well beyond our merits and Empoli played better than we did.”
Although the final result was 5-1 at the Stadio San Paolo, Ancelotti was a long way from satisfied with his men.
“I was more angry than excited, because the result says we had a great game, but the performance in fact shows Empoli played better than we did. They had more control, more initiative and up until we went 4-1 up it was a real struggle,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“We only got a draw against Roma despite playing far better, while today we were rewarded well, well beyond our merits. I told Aurelio Andreazzoli at the final whistle that Empoli played very well and I was impressed. He might’ve thought I was joking, but I really wasn’t. We were simply deadly in attack, but Empoli played better than we did.
“I even got angry with Mertens! He was playing as a winger and I told him that if he wanted to score goals, he had to go more central. He replied that assists were important too… Ah well, he got a hat-trick in the end and an assist too.”
Does this mean Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne will be the pairing against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday?
“Mertens is in spectacular form at the moment. It becomes difficult to leave Insigne and Mertens out, but Milik played 10 minutes and scored a goal, so he’s doing well too.
“Empoli play the ball between the lines, so when you try to press them, it becomes difficult unless you’re keeping the full-backs tight. It was a good lesson for Tuesday, because we realised that if we’re not wary, these situations can happen. The good news is we’ve been warned.
“The positive from today is that we showed that we can be very effective on the counter-attack. That doesn’t mean we’ll play on the counter against PSG, but if the situation comes up…”
Napoli have been rotating the squad more than ever before, as Ancelotti has used 14 different line-ups in 14 competitive games.
“We said from the start that we want to be competitive in both competitions for as long as possible. Tuesday’s game becomes crucial for qualification, we have a great opportunity and require a remarkable performance.
“I’ve never had such a large and balanced squad before, so I can chop and change the line-up without that much difference in quality. There are a few who are preferred, but largely they are all very reliable.”