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Spalletti: ‘Milan exploited the spaces we left, it was a great performance’

Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti explained how Milan ‘exploited’ the space they left on the pitch to comfortably win 4-0 at the Stadio Maradona. The Partenopei were without talisman Victor Osimhen and put in a lacklustre display, but it was the Rossoneri who really impressed with goals coming from Rafael Leao, Brahim Diaz and Alexis Saelemaekers. Speaking with DAZN (as quoted by SempreMilan) Spalleti was left to rue an uncustomary poor performance from his team ahead of their next meeting in the Champions League:

How can this result be explained?

“Milan put in a great performance. They started strong, they took advantage of all the situations we gave them. They were very good at using the spaces we gave them. We performed below our level, the great willingness of the boys in some cases served to stretch even further to go and resume the game. We have left spaces that they have exploited well.”

Why did you struggle at the start of the game?

“We had trouble in getting the ball to circulate as we know, we forced the game right away. We missed too many balls for our level.”

Did you lose the midfield battle?

“We often left a space between the lines where they are good, they have all these players who are half-playing midfielders… quality midfielders… they found the man in the middle, we went to playing man against man we did not get along well with the positions.”

Did the international break affect things?

“There’s a point that it influenced it. In these teams there are many players who give everything for the national team, then it depends on the games, the trips and it may be that they come back a little tired. But it also happened to Milan.

“So this had a bit of an influence, it had a bit of an influence that Milan put in a great performance and we weren’t at our usual level. Maybe we were a little unlucky… Oliveira came back with a problem, Osimhen came back with a problem… We were a little unlucky for this round with the national teams.”

What changes in view of the Champions League matches?

“It changes that now there will be some people saying we haven’t benefitted from the draw, it seemed that we had a team that was easy to get past.

“They’ve been through a bit of a particular moment, but we know that the Champions League beacon always puts everything back in place. After this performance here I hope there are others who think like me.”

Just as the players began making their way out of the tunnel for the second half, Luciano Spalletti could be seen in heated conversation with Paolo Maldini and Leao, having seemingly been angered by the Portuguese winger’s celebration after the opening goal. He cleared up what it was all about.

What happened in the tunnel with Maldini?

“Nothing happened with Paolo on my part, in the sense that I was returning to the dressing room and asking about Lobotka’s yellow card and the referee was explaining it to me. He passed by waving his arms as if to say ‘you always complain’.

“At the beginning of the match everyone was composed… but if there is anyone who protested, if anything it happened to them, it was Pioli who was warned by the referee. He never warned back.

“I didn’t like the fact that he was talking over my discussions with the referee. I told him and he naturally reacted a little. For my part everything is in order, indeed I was sorry for him because then we talk about Paolo Maldini … They are unpleasant things.”

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