Monday February 29 2016
Sarri: 'You can't doubt Higuain'

Maurizio Sarri praised “an advert for Italian football,” Fiorentina quality and Gonzalo Higuain’s goal statistics for Napoli.

Higuain immediately replied to a Marcos Alonso opener, while the hosts hit the woodwork twice and Ciprian Tatarusanu performed a stunning double save.

This 1-1 result means Napoli are three points adrift of Serie A leaders Juventus now.

“The distance remains more or less the same, but we can’t think of keeping up with Juve in their current form. The fact we’re still within three points gives further credit to what we’re doing,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.

“We suffered for 20 minutes in the first half, partly due to Fiorentina’s great quality and also our own fault, as we kept losing possession in midfield.

“In the second half we created more than them and I think this game was an advert for Italian football. It was played with intensity, pace, technical quality and excitement. In terms of quality, Fiorentina are one of the best sides in Serie A.”

Higuain broke his three-week goal drought, but was visibly annoyed when he was replaced by Manolo Gabbiadini at the 89th minute.

“He told me he was irritated because he had the sensation his disallowed goal was good, but the replays show he was offside, albeit not by much.

“I doubt any player is happy when he gets substituted, he just makes headlines because he’s Higuain. Weight? He was 1.5kg heavier than previous tests, but most of it was muscular mass.

“I think the President was just trying to motivate him, nothing more. This was his 27th goal with three months left in the season. When faced with those numbers, you just have to stay silent in admiration.

“I was really impressed with Lorenzo Insigne, as he sacrificed himself to close down Cristian Telles. His quality also emerged in the second half.

“I only got angry with him in one moment because he and Dries Mertens swapped flanks and then didn’t return to their positions, whereas I wanted Insigne on Telles.

“Fiorentina also lost possession a few times with seven players ahead of the ball and we didn’t make the most of our counter-attacks by taking it too slowly.”

Does Sarri really believe the Scudetto is beyond Napoli or is he playing mind-games with Juventus?

“I just said the statistics. A team that gets 49 points out of an available 51 is extraordinary. Let’s not forget last season Napoli finished 24 points behind Juventus.

“If they maintain that pace, it’s tough for us to catch them. We can’t be so presumptuous as to think we can go and grab them. All we can do is play our games and hope they slip up.”

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports.