Spaletti backs his star players to shine in their Champions League fixture

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Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, two of Napoli’s top players, have Luciano Spalletti’s support as they prepare to face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League round of 16. 

Napoli, who leads Serie A by 15 points and breezed through its Champions League group earlier this season, has been led by Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia as two of its best players this year. 

Prior to their first leg against the current champions of the Europa League in Germany, Spalletti praised both of them as well as the club’s decision-makers for bringing them to Naples.

“From the point of view of maturity, we can cite Osimhen’s reaction to Sassuolo [on Friday] as an example [when he asked to come off after feeling a potential injury],” he told reporters. “As soon as he realised he had a little problem he evaluated correctly, asking for a substitution.

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“This is the player who knows how to evaluate things very well, these two types [Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia] they are two of those who truly have the flair, the imagination, the quality to send a message to world football. At the same time, they are two very young boys.

“[Sporting director, Cristiano] Giuntoli and [chairman, Aurelio] De Laurentiis were good at choosing them from a very large group of players, this youth still needs to be shaped, matured.

“Tomorrow night will be an event to be attacked. In my opinion they will be able to interpret it. It is not allowed to be afraid. We will see football that only those at this level can make.”

The former head coach of Roma and Inter also leaned into a reporter’s comparison of Christmas morning with the Champions League knockout round.

“I have to give the reindeer some milk, because it’s the night before, it’s a party for me,” he replied. “We’ll see if we can unwrap the presents or not.”

Spalletti will face Oliver Glasner, his opponent, who has done well since taking over Eintracht in 2021.

“I know him well because I had already met him when I was coach of Zenit, there is mutual respect as regards the work of the other, for my part,” the Italian said. 

“I have a number of people who Napoli makes available to me and who go to see the work of the teams that manage to play good football. Since he won the Europa League we too have gone to see what Glasner is doing.

“He is modern, he knows how to make his team play very short, he knows very well how to press high and bring the team block low and start again in space. He has players who know how to use this space very well.

“We congratulate him on the football he has played, he is doing it even in the league. Precisely for this reason it will be delicate and difficult.”

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