Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti said the Partenopei have the depth to ‘get through the difficult moments’ as they chase their eighth consecutive win in Serie A against Torino.
The Azzurri sit first in Serie A with 21 points from seven games and have started life under Spalletti in extraordinary fashion.
But the Partenopei haven’t won in Europe yet, as they drew with Leicester and lost to Spartak Moscow in the Europa League. Spalletti admitted he was expecting a response when the team bounced back with a 2-1 win over Fiorentina ahead of the break.
“We couldn’t wait to see the team’s reaction after the defeat against Spartak,” Spalletti said at a press conference. “People always represented my teams as chokers.
“But it’s you in the media who created that image. Saying ‘now we’ll see what they’re made of’ is not fair.”
Spalletti said the calendar gives them a headache, of course, but claimed the squad has enough depth to cope with the difficulties.
“There are many games in the schedule, which can create difficulty,” Spalletti continued. “But beyond a few details, we have a squad that allows us to go through the difficult moments.
“What gives me strength is the fact that I have recovered important players, such as [Diego] Demme, [Dries] Mertens, [Stanislav] Lobotka.
“Through the availability of a number of players, it’s easier to encounter the periods that are a bit more difficult.”
Dries Mertens returned ahead of the international break and has reportedly worked hard to re-claim a place in the line-up when Serie A resumes.
Spalletti gave an update on the Belgian’s conditions and said the veteran can make an impact.
“I saw him very well,” Spalletti said. “He has definitely put this period behind him and therefore he really feels ready to be part of these 16 starters per game.
“We continue to say that there are 11 starting players, but we must conform: after the five substitutions there are not 11 starters.
“That’s only the case in the minds of those who want to search for doubt. There are players who play 60 minutes, those for 30, those of 20, those of 75. They all have the same importance, those who start and those who enter later.”
Spalletti then spoke about the match against Torino, claiming the Partenopei must expect a tough test against Ivan Juric’s men.
“We prepare for all the games in the same way, they are all important, there are three points up for grabs,” Spalletti said. “But we look at the details of who we play, what behaviours they use, their characteristics and we know our path.
“We started by speaking clearly about our ambitions, living without purpose is already achieved, we want to have a purpose to train and play correctly, struggle and sweat for the results.
“An easy life is not enough for me, I want to put something of my own in it. Then it’s clear that Torino have a history of teams that fight.
“I have always had difficulty against Torino, they fight you, and even more now that Juric is there. He’s someone who knows how to do this job. He has his creed, signs players with the characteristics he wants.”
One of the discussions ahead of Serie A Week 8 has been the calendar and the tough fixture list interrupted by the national breaks.
“The institutions must think about it, also to give a signal of consistency for the federations,” he said. “In Spain they have done something different.
“Often the players who travel for the national team arrive late at the club, so some consideration must be made, because the workload is too high for us to play our championships in the best possible way.”