Arrigo Sacchi believes that the game between Napoli and AC Milan on Sunday at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona will be a battle of two teams that are ‘in difficulty’.
The Rossoneri take on the Partenopei in Naples hoping to end a two-game losing streak, with damaging defeats having come in the last week at the hands of Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.
Sacchi is someone that knows the Milan-Napoli fixture well given that early in his time as Rossoneri coach there was a battle for the Scucetto with them, namely in 1987-88.
The former Milan and Italy head coach gave an interview given to Il Mattino which was released today, with his comments relayed by PianetaMilan.
On Napoli-Milan being a Scudetto battle: “They’re up there, in the group of top teams together with Inter and Juve. They’re playing for it [the Scudetto] and they will be in the mix until the end. It is clear, however, that Naples and Milan are two teams in difficulty.
“Regarding Napoli, let’s leave time to Rudi Garcia: he is a new coach, he has to make the players perform, he has to defend the scudetto which is already a great responsibility. Patience is needed.”
On the ‘De Laurentiis method’, with the president being close to the head coach: “The president is the president. Sometimes he doesn’t even need to talk. Seconds are enough, not even rants. After the initial difficulties against Fiorentina and Espanyol, in my time, Silvio Berlusconi made a 27-second speech.
“He called us into the office, turned to the players and said: ‘I have faith in Arrigo, I’m with Arrigo. Those of you who think differently will be let go of. Good job everyone’. Remember it and write it down: a club with its own culture and history, represented by its president, comes before the team. The team comes before the individual.”
On who will be more affected between Napoli without Victor Osimhen and Milan with a tired Olivier Giroud: “No team pays a duty a priori because football is not a man but a collective. Napoli have already demonstrated this: they win even without Osimhen, just as my Milan won the Scudetto with Marco van Basten who played a few full matches and then raised the European Cup to the sky with Ruud Gullit on half serve.
“So Napoli remains solid, they can win regardless of the absence of their striker. The problem is understanding how they win.”
On how to win games: “Here we open a discussion on the famous game so dear to Berlusconi, which said win, convince, entertain. Playing well is not a formation, it is not detail: playing well is the first step to winning and remaining competitive for a long time.
“Then in Europe, where football is more advanced, they put entertainment and collective at the center, Italy and our Italian Champions League come out with broken bones. Did you see Napoli in Berlin?”
On Milan’s struggling players: “Rafael Leao made the difference in close matches against Napoli last year. But Leao is Leao if he runs, if he sprints. If he doesn’t run, I won’t let him play. Sometimes players also need a hard fist.”
On Napoli 2-3 Milan back in May 1988: “A manifesto of civilisation, because the Neapolitans in the stands were very correct, they recognized our playing superiority and applauded us.
“It is a strong memory: it is the culture of sport but also the ability to recognize the merits of an opponent. It happened in Diego’s stadium, now named after him.”