Luciano Spalletti Emphasizes Importance of Milan Game

Napoli wasted a golden opportunity to return to the top of the Serie A standings as Empoli eked out a 1-0 win at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. Luciano Spalletti’s men failed to capitalize on Milan’s 1-1 draw at Udinese despite being overwhelming favorites against the newly-promoted visitors. 

In the absence of injured striker Victor Osimhen, Dries Mertens was again in the starting line-up, headlining the attack alongside Hirving Lozano and Adam Ounas. Napoli suffered another injury setback in the first half. Piotr Zielinski limped off the pitch, forcing Lorenzo Insigne’s premature introduction. 

In the post-match interview, Spalletti confirmed the Polish midfielder demanded substitution after feeling chest pain.

He felt pain in his chest and we didn’t even think about keeping him on the pitch for a longer time,” he said. “One thinks that something can happen. He was scared by the pain in his chest, so we decided to replace him.

Though the Partenopei had most of the ball and created countless scoring opportunities, Guglielmo Vicario kept a clean sheet against the odds. Napoli attempted a staggering 30 shots on goal, including six on target, but failed to break down Empoli’s stubborn defense. 

And while the hosts’ chances went beginning, the Azzurri made the most out of their rare opportunities to snatch away the three points. Patrick Cutrone scored the only goal of the match in the 70th minute, inflicting another massive blow on Napoli’s title pursuit. 

Now winless in three Serie A games on the trot, including back-to-back defeats, the Partenopei have fallen to fourth in the standings. Yet, a four-point deficit on top-placed Inter means their title hopes are still very much alive.

Napoli’s upcoming Serie A fixture pits them against fellow title bidders Milan. Spalletti believes that his side’s trip to San Siro could be a turning point for the Partenopei.

It’s a great opportunity for us because we can fix a few things. Finally, we have a full week of training ahead,” he concluded, via TUTTOmercatoWEB.