Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti has played down Victor Osimhen’s absence and talked up the ability of the other players in his squad ahead of the Champions League quarter-final against AC Milan.
Speaking during his press conference on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday night’s match (via Milan News), the Napoli boss refused to agree with the idea that Milan’s chances are lessened by the absence of Osimhen.
“The strength of a team is never a bare addition of team members. But of qualities, of how they can coexist with each other, team behaviour,” Spalletti said.
“And our team has shown that it can play beyond the starting lineup. We have won important games even without Osimhen. I expect those who go on the field to have the confidence of their teammates and their own.
“Given that this is the competition of champions, champions don’t cry over themselves. And we have plenty of champions. I know this team tomorrow night will do everything to be better than Milan. Tough match, we were not the strongest 15 days ago, we are not the weakest now. We will play a lot for the future of all of us and we will be ready.”
It is expected that Giacomo Raspadori will be starting in attack given Giovanni Simeone is also out injured. The Italian has been out for a long time with an injury of his own though and Spalletti provided an update on his situation.
“He only did today as a workout, not very deep. He will be evaluated in the morning to have him do further tests and then we will choose who will play in that position,” Spalletti said.
When asked about what he will say to Paolo Maldini when the two meet, Spalletti made it very clear how much respect he holds for the Milan sporting director and former defender.
“I think I don’t have to say anything to Paolo because of the esteem I have for him, because it starts from afar. With the cameras you catch every detail but these are very normal locker room things,” he began.
“When I was at Zenit and I had the opportunity to decide the names of the collaborators. I was asked for an international profile to go and give more visibility to the club. I mentioned the name of Paolo Maldini and they were delighted. They asked me to contact him, I did but he did not accept. This is to highlight the esteem I have for the person, for the footballer.
“I made a post on Instagram, from June 2020, where I wrote, ‘The beat of soccer will be beautiful even from home, I will see it from the Scala del Calcio’. Next to a staircase and to make this post I put jerseys, the ones closest to me are those of Maldini and De Rossi. In closing, it was a regret for me not to have greeted Maldini at the end of the match.”
When asked about the importance of the match and its scale, Spalletti said: “These are the matches that erase a lot of things, where all the players through importance can recognize what is needed. If you think that a league match only interests Milan and Napoli fans, a Champions game interests fans all over the world, and the players also involuntarily experience this a little bit.”
“He did not accept”
Honestly, what did he expect.. lol