Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti has explained his decision to leave star striker Victor Osimhen out of his team’s Champions League quarterfinal first-leg match against AC Milan on Wednesday, Soccernet.ng reports.
The 24-year-old has been struggling with a groin injury and is now racing against time to prove his fitness for the second leg in Naples on April 18.
Speaking ahead of the game, Spalletti revealed that he had opted to rest Osimhen to avoid the risk of a more serious injury that could keep him out for an extended period.
He also expressed confidence in his team’s ability to cope without the Nigerian, pointing out that they had won important matches without him.
What was said?
“We have won very important games without Osimhen,” Spalletti said. “We are here because we have won without him in this competition, and I am expecting the same, that all my players rely on their teammates’ abilities.”
Osimhen, who is considered not technical enough by Mikel Obi, has been in sensational form for Napoli this season, leading the Serie A charts with 21 goals.
His absence is undoubtedly a major blow for the Italian side, who had been considered favorites going into the tie against Milan.
Napoli are currently 22 points clear of fourth-place Milan in Serie A and are aiming to win the scudetto for the first time since 1990.
Despite the setback, Spalletti urged his players to embrace the challenge of playing without their star striker and to treat the occasion as a special one.
“We can’t go on the pitch and be afraid. We need to take this chance and enjoy the game,” he said.
“This is like Christmas Eve. The game, the day before the match, the dinner before the match, it is all there to be enjoyed.”
Napoli will hope to secure a positive result against Milan in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie before returning to Naples for the second leg next week.