SSC Napoli feel enough motivation going into their today’s last match of the 2020/2021 Europa League Group F against visitors, Real Sociedad, with head coach Gennaro Gattuso urging his players to play with ’emotion and responsibility’ as the Partenopei kick-start a new era of playing at their home ground renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Completesports.com reports.
Napoli legend, Maradona, who passed away at the age of 60 on November 25 has been duly immortalized by the club he played for from 1984 to 1991, recording 188 appearances and 81 goals. The Argentina legend won two Serie A titles, as well as one UEFA Cup, one Coppa Italia, and one Italian Super Cup titles during that five-year career with the club.
Napoli are top of the Europa Cup Group F on 10 points ahead of today’s match, while Sociedad and AZ Alkmaar are second and third respectively but on eight points apiece. Rijeck bring up the rear on one point.
Gattuso who spoke during a post match news conference on Wednesday, urged his players to be at their best as they play for the first time at the ‘Diego Armando Maradona Stadium’.
“There’ll be emotion and responsibility. Diego deserves it all given what he did for this team and this city. It’s a huge honour for me and my players to play for the first time at a stadium officially named after him,” Gattuso said.
He added: “We know it’s going to be tough tomorrow, so I hope to see a big Napoli performance.”
“We knew this group would be difficult as soon as the draw was made and I expected us to have to fight until the final day to secure qualification. We’re ending the group against a top side, but Rijeka and AZ are good teams too.”
“I know we have a quality squad that can compete on all fronts. I’m really pleased with what we’ve achieved so far. We want to keep this up. In my eyes, this can be the perfect team if it plays to its full potential. When I say we need to improve our mentality, that means staying strong when you’re having a bad day to keep yourself in the game.”
On captain Lorenzo Insigne’s role in his team, Gattuso said: “I have a very straight, open relationship with Lorenzo. He knows that he needs to grow in character if he’s to get the best out of his talent. That’s why I said what I said in recent weeks. He’s our captain and he needs to be a leader for the team both on and off the pitch.”
Napoli are still missing the contributions on their prized big summer signing, Victor Osimhen. The Nigeria striker will miss his sixth Napoli game since sustaining a shoulder injury while playing for the Super Eagles in a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Sierra Leone on November 13.
The duo of Amir Rrahamani and Elseid Hysaj are also not available for selection after testing positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday and going into isolation at home.
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