Spalletti: No pressure on Napoli ahead of second leg with Milan

Spalletti: No pressure on Napoli ahead of second leg with Milan

Napoli head into their Champions League quarter-final second leg with AC Milan facing “no risks”, says head coach Luciano Spalletti.

Alongside their dominance in this season’s Serie A that sees them closing in on a first league title since the 1989-90 campaign, Napoli have also reached the last eight of Europe’s top club competition for the first time.

But an Ismael Bennacer goal meant Spalletti’s side slipped to a 1-0 defeat in last week’s first leg at San Siro, while midfielder Frank Zambo Anguissa also saw red to leave the Partenopei without one of their key men as they look to overturn the one-goal deficit at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.

Spalletti, however, believes Napoli should head into the game feeling optimistic, and not under pressure, telling reporters at his pre-match press conference: “Being in the Champions League at this point is already something important.

“We want to move forward, we want to win, so we’ll play to win. Then we’ll see where we’ll end up.

“We believe we can do more. There is no risk in tomorrow’s match, we risk infinite happiness. If you win, you go even further.”

Napoli lost at San Siro despite having more shots, possession, and attempts on target than their opponents, and Spalletti feels his team will have to replicate that performance again on home soil.

“We have to do as in the first leg, where we came out with a slight disadvantage,” Spalletti said. “In general, the performance I expect is that of the first leg.

“I am convinced that important situations can only be created if we perform at a high level, if we are intense, if we are good at finding those spaces and getting out of them as fast as possible. I think it will be the same tomorrow night because the team deserves to perform well.”

Napoli are looking to come from behind against one of the Champions League’s most successful teams, with only Real Madrid (14) winning the competition on more occasions than Milan’s seven.

Asked whether he felt there was still a gap in European experience between his players and the Rossoneri’s, Spalletti replied: “We’re creating experience for ourselves.

“We’ve played many games in the Champions League, on pitches where we’ve shown character and personality, I don’t see why it should be different now.

“But there’s always the possibility to overturn any result and I expect the team to be able to do all the things needed.

“We have to think about playing the game in a normal way, putting everything we have into it. This level of football and competition is a reward for the players, for what has been done so far, a reward for the city for all the affection it has for these players, and we will have to give everything.”

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