Napoli fears European hangover against Inter
MILAN – Reuters
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is unhappy at facing Inter Milan so soon after visiting Manchester City in the Champions League while his opponent in Oct. 21’s Serie A showdown believes its absence from Europe could prove a blessing.
Leader Napoli has won all eight league matches this season, while second-placed Inter, fresh from a derby win over AC Milan, has won seven and drawn one, making the fixture one of the most eagerly anticipated of the season.
However, while Inter has had all week to prepare, Napoli had to travel to the home of Europe’s most in-form team for a Champions League tie it lost 2-1 on Oct. 17.
In a move that is unlikely to have won him any friends at UEFA, Sarri made it clear that Oct. 21’s Serie A game would be his priority.
The logic behind his thinking -- that City will win all its group matches and that Oct. 17’s match was one he could afford to lose -- may also have struck a chord with those who feel the Champions League has become too predictable.
“City is the strongest team in the group and will probably win all six matches. Other matches will be decisive for us,” he said.
In the event, Sarri rested midfield duo Allan and Jorginho in favor of Amadou Diawara and Piotr Zielinski. However, winger Lorenzo Insigne suffered a muscular injury which leaves him doubtful for the weekend.
“I am not diminishing the importance of the Champions League but I will rest players every now and then when they need it,” said Sarri, adding that Diawara and Zielinski were more than adequate replacements.
“If we changed two players and weren’t competitive, that would be a problem. I kept getting criticized for playing the same team, and now I’m criticized for changing too much.”
Sarri, whose side also visited AS Roma the previous weekend, took a swipe at Serie A organizers for the timing of the Inter match.