Maurizio Sarri questions Napoli hunger, enthusiasm after RB Leipzig loss
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri was furious with his side following their 3-1 defeat at home to RB Leipzig in the Europa League on Thursday night which most likely signals the end of their European campaign this season.
Despite having prepared his excuses in advance, by stating how his club's priority at the moment is winning Serie A, Sarri nevertheless did not mince his words in giving his opinion on an abject display at the Stadio San Paolo.
"It's not on to concede a goal in the 93rd minute when there was still a game to go, but then again, nothing that we did tonight was on," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We played a deeply disappointing game, without any enthusiasm.
"My team did not play with the right attitude for those who represent a club with this history, and this has let me down a lot.
"You've always got to have the right mentality. You can win or lose games, but your mentality must always be right and I saw a team playing without enthusiasm and without hunger and this is a horrible sign in terms of our mentality.
"You've got to honour the Napoli shirt and I'm a bit disappointed with what I saw."
Napoli took a 1-0 lead through Adam Ounas' first goal for the club, but it proved to be a false dawn for the Serie A leaders, who now have their work cut out trying to reach the round of 16 -- especially considering their focus apparently lies elsewhere.
"We did everything that we should not have done," Sarri added. "I get the feeling this team is lacking in terms of maturity because we're unable to play in every competition with the same spirit. I've had this feeling all season and tonight just confirmed everything.
"If we're not there with our heads, then we become a less than average side. I hope this defeat doesn't have any repercussions on our morale. We played two great games against [Manchester] City this season and then we paid the price in our subsequent league games, which is why I don't think we have the big-team mentality to shake off the tension in time for the league.
"Obviously winning the league is our main objective, but we've also got to realise that when we are playing in Europe, we need to perform to ensure we don't make ourselves look stupid. Tonight I realised that we still have to take huge strides to become a top team."
Napoli travel to Leipzig next Thursday for the second leg, after facing SPAL in Serie A on Sunday and before travelling to Cagliari.
They have a one-point advantage over title rivals Juventus after 24 games of the season, and they have won their last eight Serie A fixtures.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.