Walter Mazzarri has insisted his Napoli side have significant room for improvement after seeing them draw 1-1 at home to struggling Bologna. The result left I Partenopei, who finished third last season, sixth in Serie A, ten points behind leaders Juventus and seven shy of third-placed Udiense, who occupy the last UEFA Champions League qualifying spot.
And despite their excellent form in Europe’s elite club competition this term – Napoli took four points from a possible six off Manchester City en route to a place in the last 16, where they will meet Chelsea – Mazzarri has stressed they are far from the finished article.
“We are not a great team yet,” stated the 50-year-old, who assumed the Napoli reins in 2009. “We have to understand that and grow. It’s true that we have beaten Manchester City this season, but that was a real miracle.”
Bologna took a surprise 14th-minute lead in Naples through Robert Acquafresca, and with goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet in fine form, were less than 20 minutes away from victory.
However, a Diego Perez handball gifted Napoli a chance to equalise from the spot. Marek Hamsik, who had missed his team’s previous two penalties, gave the responsibility to Edinson Cavani and the Uruguayan striker thumped the ball home for his 11th league goal of the campaign (Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale tops the scoring chart on 13).
“A few things went against us today,” said Mazzarri. “Take Hamsik, who missed a one-on-one with the keeper. But a lot of our players were below par. The team wasn’t very lucid.
“More often than not, teams who come to the Stadio San Paolo defend in an exaggerated manner. And sometimes we want to attack so much that we then lose our balance.”
The two-time Scudetto winns return to action at Siena on Sunday, before visiting Genoa the following weekend. Napoli have not won away in the league since a 3-0 reverse of Inter Milan on 1 October.
Click this Classic Players link to read about the superb careers of former Napoli players Dino Zoff and Diego Maradona.