Luciano Spalletti criticised Napoli for ‘lacking courage and being too predictable’ against Inter in a 3-2 defeat, while giving an injury update on Victor Osimhen.
The Partenopei had been unbeaten in Serie A since April, a run of 21 games, and had opened the scoring at San Siro with Piotr Zielinski only to end up trailing 3-1.
Dries Mertens got them back into it and could’ve sealed the 3-3 draw in stoppages, only to blaze over after Samir Handanovic’s amazing save on Mario Rui.
This means Napoli and Milan remain joint leaders, having both lost their unbeaten records this weekend, but Inter close the gap to four points.
“Lautaro Martinez is a wonderful player, he needed time to settle, but is now proving himself to be the champion we always knew that he was,” former Inter coach Spalletti told DAZN.
“We did much better in terms of quality in the second half, making some more courageous choices and unpredictable passes. In the first, we were too predictable, seeking solutions without character or inspiration, while we allowed Inter too many spaces for the counter.
“We need to sort some things out, but it was a good overall performance.”
The game inevitably changed when Napoli top scorer Victor Osimhen went off with head trauma after a nasty clash of heads with Milan Skriniar.
He has been taken to hospital for tests and there are fears he might’ve fractured his cheekbone.
Even before the substitution, Spalletti had been spotted angrily giving Osimhen instructions.
“He is generous and lets himself get caught up in what’s happening around, but he has to make choices. If he chases everyone, we have to adjust to chase him and it becomes a constant sprint to keep the team tight.
“He has this swollen eye and couldn’t see very well, so he needs tests. The swelling went up around his eye and I hope it is just a bruise. I hope.”
Spalletti said beforehand that it would be difficult tactically to face an Inter side with a 3-5-2 formation.
“It becomes difficult to face Inter, because we have to keep the defence tight and get the full-back onto their wing-back. If you get stretched out, it becomes trickier and you need to use the midfielders on them. We did it properly at times, but a lot depends on the quality of your possession.
“I am angry if we don’t do what we need to do and I saw a lack of courage in the first half. We need to be courageous and make courageous choices if we are to challenge with Inter and Milan for important targets. We need to test the opposition at a higher level and I hope from now on we’ll have the courage, knowing we belong there.”