Gennaro Gattuso’s assistant manager Gigi Riccio insists Napoli ‘deserve congratulations’ for topping their Europa League group and reveals the loss to AZ Alkmaar was a turning point.
The Partenopei were pegged back in stoppages by Real Sociedad this evening for a 1-1 draw, but that proved enough to not only qualify, but also top the Europa League group.
Gattuso did not speak to the media after the game, as he is suffering from a recurring eye issue that flares up occasionally.
“We already knew full well how difficult this group was, so the lads deserve congratulations for coming out on top,” assistant Ricci told Sky Sport Italia.
“They needed sacrifice and determination in every game in order to then make the most of our strengths. We were up against a strong team in good shape, but we did well.
“Attitude is the most important thing and from tomorrow we’ll keep pushing that aspect even more. We cannot ever do without the right attitude, because that comes even before tactics and talent. This is why the team deserves to go through as group winners.”
Over two games against a side that is currently second in La Liga, Napoli conceded just one goal in stoppages.
“We are working hard on defensive improvements and that starts from the forwards, who sacrifice themselves for their teammates. Distances are important and they have to keep it tight.
“Good defending derives from keeping possession with quality, but tonight Real Sociedad forced us to have less possession than we had hoped,” continued Ricci.
“We weren’t happy with the opening defeat to AZ Alkmaar, but the performance itself wasn’t that bad. We had another two or three similar games, so the results with Sassuolo and AZ made us reflect on what we needed to work on.
“Now we focus far more on the aspects that need to improve and keep the players on their toes even when they are doing well.”