Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri insisted his formation change against Club Brugge was not a reaction to his team’s poor start to the Serie A season.
Sarri tweaked his line-up on Thursday, setting Napoli up in a 4-3-3 rather than a 4-3-1-2, with Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens flanking Gonzalo Higuain up front, while Lorenzo Insigne – an ever-present in the starting XI as a central attacking midfielder before Thursday – dropping to the bench.
Callejon and Mertens both scored twice in Napoli’s 5-0 Europa League triumph after they were rested against Empoli in Serie A on Sunday.
Napoli had failed to win in their opening three Serie A fixtures but registered their first victory of the season at the Stadio San Paolo against Brugge.
“The 4-3-3 is a more defensive system than a 4-3-1-2,” Sarri told reporters after the match.
“We needed to do better defensively and tonight we did that.
“Our defenders were a big help to us and Callejon and Mertens were fresh in attack but honestly, I had made the decision to use this system 10 days ago.
“That’s why I decided to rest them against Empoli.
“Insigne has shown he can play as a winger in the past, but he is doing well as a playmaker.
“He can do well in both roles and it just means that we have something to evaluate.”
Sarri added that the mood within his squad had remained positive despite their stuttering start in the Italian top flight.
Napoli lost their first game of the season away to Sassuolo, while they drew with Sampdoria and Empoli.
“I saw many positive things but at times we lost our focus too easily,” the 56-year-old coach said.
“I saw what I expected to see, which is many positives and some negatives.
“The players were not too bothered despite not winning up to now, as we just needed to find consistency.
“After we went up 1-0, we conceded very few chances and they [Club Brugge] were less incisive than previous matches I have watched of them.”