Sacchi: ‘Napoli’s Back-Line Was Not Well-Organised’


Arrigo Sacchi believes Napoli were caught off guard against Barcelona, due to the disorganisation of their back-line. Writing in La Gazzetta dello Sport, Sacchi analysed Napoli’s 3-1 loss to the Blaugrana, explaining where he believes the team fell short, and also looked ahead to Inter’s match with Atletico Madrid this evening:

“Too much Barcelona for this Napoli. Even though they are filled with young players with little international experience, the Catalans dominated the field. In the end, the stronger team passed and the one that played better over the two matches. I’m very sorry for Napoli, who last season accomplished a true feat by winning the league title.

“Calzona’s team showed uncertainties in defense, where they were often caught off guard because the line was not well organized and positioned. And in midfield, only Lobotka struggled a lot against Xavi’s playmakers.

“However, what surprised me the most was the lack of involvement in the game by Kvara and Osimhen, the two most anticipated elements. Many of Napoli’s hopes were pinned on them. It’s true that they were served little, but it’s also true that they moved little and poorly. Kvara always waits for the ball to come to him, thus becoming an easily containable target for opponents.

“Osimhen, in the air, only got to it once and, in general, he attacked the spaces behind the defenders little and offered himself rarely for passes. Too little if you want to think about causing problems for Barcelona, who may not be the great Barcelona of Guardiola’s time but is still a team that knows the principles of modern football.

“Always compact, always ready to move the ball quickly, always available for pressing, the Catalans proved superior. It’s a pity because the two-day journey of the Italians in Spain begins with a false step.

“Tonight, it will be a true test of maturity for Inter. After the 1-0 in the first leg at San Siro, they will have to put in a performance of considerable quality to overcome Atletico Madrid and qualify for the quarter-finals. They need to go to Madrid with a winning mentality, as absolute masters. I have confidence because the Nerazzurri are in good physical shape, play excellent football, and have the necessary experience to face such challenges.

“However, I would like to warn them because I know the atmosphere of Atletico Madrid having worked there several years ago. They are passionate, intense; the crowd drives and supports the team, and this could be a problem for Inter. There is only one way to disarm this danger: take the initiative away from the Spaniards, leave them without the ball, become the dominators of the field. If an opponent puts them under pressure in terms of possession, it’s humiliating for them. And consequently, both the players on the field and the spectators in the stands lose energy.

“Another aspect not to be overlooked is that Simeone comes from Italian football, he knows us perfectly and will do everything to cause us problems. I say that if Inter is compact, if they have the right timing, if they force the Spaniards to play at a high speed and thus make mistakes, then it’s fine: it’s the right way to reach the goal. The important thing is not to line up with six defenders waiting for Atletico’s advances: that would be the best way to fire up the Spaniards. The Nerazzurri, who have remarkable technical and physical qualities, must focus on ball possession, short passes, pressing, aggressiveness, and constant movement.

“A perfect game is needed to secure qualification, but this is normal as we are talking about the Champions League. The key to the challenge may be quick counterattacks rather than long ones: take the ball and run quickly towards the opponent’s area. They get demoralized, and you get excited. It’s crucial that Inter doesn’t behave as Italian teams have often behaved in Europe, that is, waiting for the opponents and conceding the initiative. An European attitude is needed, a winning mentality precisely, the desire to take the stage and dominate the scene. This is what I expect from the Nerazzurri, and I’m sure that Inzaghi’s boys have the means to achieve it.”


Serie A obsessive.