Napoli defeated Crotone 3-0 at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday afternoon to bounce back from their Champions League loss.
The Partenopei dominated the match with over 80 percent possession. Lorenzo Insigne broke the deadlock after converting a penalty 32 minutes into the match, while Dries Mertens scored a penalty after replacing Leonardo Pavoletti. Insigne completed his double only four minutes later to make it 3-0 and secure the victory for the home side.
Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri spoke to Sky Sport after the match. Sarri said today’s match was not easy, especially after facing Juventus, Roma and Real Madrid in a short span.
“The team played well. Beyond the Champions League, we spent so much [energy] in 10 days between Juventus, Roma and Real Madrid. It was not easy mentally today, but we played seriously and with an excellent level of passing. We had also rotated five players against Chievo. It is normal to do so after Real Madrid and our energy being spent.”
Sarri acknowledged the possession his club had, but said sometimes it became sterile.
“At times the guys have fun, losing sight of the objective. At one point, the possession seemed to be becoming a sterile possession, without malice (or purpose) and concreteness. We must move the ball in a certain direction and must take responsibility.”
Pavoletti started the match for Napoli over Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik. Sarri said the Polish international’s recovery impressed him, but that it’s hard to replace Mertens who has produced for the team at a high level.
“[Milik] had a stupendous road to recovery. He has healed and I’ve never seen anyone be in this condition after four months following a cruciate rupture. Pavoletti arrived not too long ago, but I can’t ignore Mertens, a striker who has scored 19 goals in 16 games; doing that would be madness. It’s clear that his production penalizes the other two, but it’s an important solution for us.”
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has made his voice heard in the media recently. De Laurentiis made comments after his club’s loss in the first leg against Real Madrid. The comments seemed to include a criticism of Sarri’s decision making.
Sarri said after the Crotone win that he continues to make his own decisions regardless.
“I have never retreated from my ideas. I continue to do what I believe is right.”
Napoli will play Empoli next Sunday, March 19 as they continue to battle with Roma for second place in the Serie A.