Sarri responds to Napoli president’s criticism

Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri has hit back at club president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who criticised the team following their 3-1 defeat at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Partenopei took the lead in their Champions League last-16 first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu thanks to an opener from Lorenzo Insigne, but Los Merengues came back to score three goals to ease past the visitors.

The Napoli president was not satisfied by what he saw on the night, and also questioned Sarri's team selection, but the manager leapt to the defence of his players.

Sarri responded in his post-match press conference, saying: "I am at training every day and I am the one who chooses. The president can express his ideas, I'd rather he expressed them directly to me, but in the end, I decide.

"We had [Arkadiusz] Milik on the bench because we know that in his condition he cannot do more than 10-11 minutes, but in that spell, he could give us something. Why experiment? We could've lost 5-0 in that case.

"If we make that many mistakes, it's difficult to find courage. If you misplace the second pass, you won't build any pressure. Our choice of passing wasn't always on point.

"Playing Real Madrid in this stadium may well have influenced some of our younger players, but you do grow up through games like this. It's all valuable experience."

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