Rudi Garcia warns Napoli that Lazio better than recent Serie A defeats suggest

By Sports Desk September 01, 2023

Napoli manager Rudi Garcia highlighted Lazio’s quality despite the Biancocelesti losing their opening two Serie A matches ahead of their meeting on Saturday.

Maurizio Sarri’s side, who were beaten 2-1 at Lecce before a 1-0 home defeat to Genoa, find themselves in 18th place and travel to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in search of their first points of the season.

Garcia will look to extend Napoli’s flawless start despite failing to predict how Sarri’s side will set up when the two face off.

“They’re a quality side that need points having lost their first two games,” Garcia said.

“I don’t know what we should expect in tactical terms – maybe they’ll keep it tight.

“I always try to manage games by looking at my team. In this regard, we aren’t at 100 per cent yet in terms of fitness because some of the players started preparing for the season later than others.

“This is a match between two teams, Napoli and Lazio, rather than a match between coaches.

“Tomorrow is a match that we want to win. Our aim is to keep up our 100 per cent record as that would allow us to take points off Lazio, who are a direct rival of ours.”

Garcia, who replaced Luciano Spalletti in June, credited his side’s start which included a 3-1 victory over Frosinone and a 2-0 win over Sassuolo.

The French manager encouraged his team to be more clinical in front of goal and provided an injury update for 2022/23 Serie A player of the year Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who returned to action last week.

“We did well to give very little away against Frosinone and Sassuolo,” Garcia added.

“The win over Frosinone took on greater significance after they beat Atalanta. We stood our ground for the first hour against Sassuolo when it was still 11 against 11.

“We certainly need to improve in terms of finishing.

“We’re carving out plenty of chances but we’re not making the most of them. What matters to me giving little away because we need to get the balance right in order to achieve our target.

“He’s doing well (Kvaratskhelia). He’s had a busy week of training and we’ll see if he plays tomorrow.”

Garcia admitted he is pleased to face Real Madrid in Group C of the Champions League – with Napoli also due to face Braga and Union Berlin.

“The draw could’ve been better and it also could’ve been worse,” he said.

“I’m really pleased to be playing against Real Madrid, first of all because they’re a great side and it’s also a fitting return for me as when Roma qualified for the last 16 in 2016, I was supposed to face Real Madrid but I wasn’t allowed to.”

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