Inter kicked off their Champions League group stage opener in stunning fashion while Napoli’s trip to the Balkans ends in frustration.
Both Inter and Napoli began their European adventure in already seemingly must-win situations. Their groups packed with powerhouse teams that seemingly put both the Italians on the back foot. There’s little margin for error when your group consists of Barcelona, Tottenham and PSV, and for the southerners, PSG, Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade.
While Inter managed a monumental comeback that gave them all three points, it’s fair to say Tottenham dominated the game. But in this group, it’s massive. Had the result gone the other way, it would’ve seemed already like a curtain call for the Nerazzurri. Mathematically speaking, if Inter takes all six points from PSV, it would bring them to nine points in the group, theoretically needing only a draw against Tottenham away or in either fixture against Barcelona.
A much easier task said than done.
“The fact we overturned the result with that final push makes it even more satisfying,” Spalletti told Sky Sport. “We saw how the fans in the stadium celebrated what it meant to them. We were always attacking and always tried to get behind them, so we put in a great performance.
“This result gives us different self-belief around the work we are doing. Getting players like Icardi to break their ducks is fundamental, as we need his goals.”
Spalletti’s right, and tonight’s result should give them the green light to fight another day.
Meanwhile in Serbia, it was Napoli who dominated proceedings. The Partenopei held 65% of possession and hit the post two times. Post-game, head coach Carlo Ancelotti tried to conduct damage control despite taking an away point awhile from a very hostile environment.
“We dropped two points in a difficult group, that is true, but there are another five games to go. We shouldn’t be overly dramatic
“I think we took too much time to get forward and by the time we did, their defenders had got back into position. We then tried to force the game down the center and didn’t use the width enough. We are currently second in the group and there’s no need to be too negative.”
“Insigne is very good in tight spaces and does good work off the ball too, so he can give us some important options in this new role.
At the end of the night, it’s the points that count. Both Inter and Napoli face still very difficult challenges ahead to qualifying for the Round of 16.