Luciano Spalletti believes Napoli’s current team is a greater collective unit than the Partenopei sides which Diego Maradona inspired to two Serie A titles.
Napoli reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time on Wednesday, completing a 5-0 aggregate triumph in their last-16 tie against Eintracht Frankfurt.
A Victor Osimhen brace and a Piotr Zielinski penalty guided Napoli to a 3-0 win at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with last season’s Europa League winners failing to land a blow on Spalletti’s men.
With Napoli set to end a 33-year wait to win Serie A after building an 18-point lead at the summit, comparisons have been made with the sides Maradona led to the Scudetto in 1986-87 and 1989-90.
However, Spalletti feels his team are less reliant on individual brilliance, saying: “There is a key difference – nobody wins games alone like Maradona did.
“We manage to make up for our shortcomings thanks to collective work. Tonight I saw many elements combine and play a messy game, which sometimes you need.
“It’s not just that the important individuals create an outlet. To make the most of it, you need those who scrape and clean up situations for the players with more quality.”
What does the next chapter have in store?
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) March 15, 2023
While Napoli’s remarkable rise has been a collective effort, Osimhen produced another talismanic forward display against Eintracht as he reached 23 goals for the campaign.
The Nigeria international has scored 13 times since the turn of the year – a tally only bettered by Marcus Rashford (15) among players from Europe’s top five leagues – and Spalletti says there is more to come.
“He’s already a world-class player, a great world-class player,” Spalletti said of Osimhen. “He still has untapped potential – a lot of it – so we’re pleased.
“In addition to scoring goals, he cleans up situations when the opposing team presses us, he creates opportunities for us. He has these flashes.
“Everything is correct with him, and we need to build on these matches both individually and collectively to be even more ready for the following games.”
25 – Napoli have scored more goals in the UEFA Champions League than any other team this season (25), while only three Italian sides have ever netted more in a single campaign in the competition:
Juventus 30 in 2002-03
Internazionale 26 in 2002-03
Lazio 26 in 1999-00
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 15, 2023
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