‘Carefree’ approach can help nervous Napoli
COACH Maurizio Sarri says a more “carefree” approach could help Napoli unlock a Champions League last 16 place after a 3-2 defeat at home to Besiktas kept the Italians waiting.
Napoli welcomed the Turkish champions knowing a third consecutive Group B win, along with a Dinamo KievBenfica draw, would secure entry to the knockout phase with three games to spare and set a new competition record.
But despite a promising start at the San Paolo, the hosts were wasteful in front of goal and paid the price for a glaring Jorginho blunder that saw Cameroonian forward Vincent Aboubakar give the visitors a 2-1 lead by the 38th minute.
Manolo Gabbiadini, demoted to the bench in place of Dries Mertens after 3-1 defeat to Roma last weekend, struck the leveller on 69 minutes after Lorenzo Insigne had missed the chance to equalise from the spot shortly after the restart.
But Napoli failed to capitalise on further chances and paid the ultimate price when Aboubakar headed Ricardo Quaresma’s freekick past Pepe Reina four minutes from the end.
Besiktas’ first group win since 2009 kept them in second place to sit just one point behind Napoli and they will be looking to relaunch their last 16 bid with a win next month.
Coach Senol Gunes said: “Now we have to face Napoli at home but it will be hard to get out of this group.”
Defeat for Napoli at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul would spell disaster for the Azzurri on their first appearance in the group stages since 2013 when Walter Mazzarri’s side were eliminated behind Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.
After their third consecutive defeat in all competitions, Sarri says a more “carefree” approach to their trademark flowing game could help settle nerves.
“We have to react and try to find a more carefree approach to our game,” said Sarri.
“We had the right level aggression and I saw some good stuff in attack, but we have to defend with a little more order.” – AFP