Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri told Mediaset that his team did not lose the Serie A title on the field and stopped short of saying Juventus, who won for the seventh consecutive season , were worthy champions.
A 1-0 win away against Juventus on April 22 narrowed the gap on the league leaders to a single point with four games remaining. A week later, Juve won 2-1 at Inter Milan and Napoli lost 3-0 at Fiorentina — and that, according to Sarri, was the turning point in the season.
“The biggest regret we have this season is that we lost the title in a hotel and not out on the field,” Sarri said following the 2-0 win at Sampdoria on Sunday. “We suffered repercussions for the result and for the way in which the Inter-Juventus result came about.
“We lost three games [all season] and, after these defeats, we drew our next games, which shows that we are a sensitive side.”
Sarri also believes the league scheduling put his side at a psychological disadvantage.
“The Lega has got to improve because, especially in the final 16 rounds of matches, 14 times we played after Juventus,” Sarri said. “Considering that Juve practically always win, it’s clear that this damaged us significantly.
“This sport has become a business for everybody. Let’s remember this used to be a sport and if we leave it as a business, it’s the end.”
And, as a result, Sarri wonders whether Juve deserved the Serie A title.
“I don’t know if the strongest team won the league, but Juventus are certainly the most powerful in all respects,” Sarri said. “I don’t know if they deserve the title. I only saw a few of their games this season to be able to judge them.”
After missing out on the Scudetto, Sarri’s future is now the source of speculation. He is set to meet with club president Aurelio De Laurentiis to discuss plans for next year.
“This is a group of fans that I love deeply and a city I love deeply too, and this will never change,” he said. “Unless the president doesn’t come, or I don’t go, then we’re bound to bump into each other [on Thursday].”
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.