Rudi Garcia has attempted to brush off any criticism of Napoli’s slow start to their Serie A title defence.
The champions opened their campaign with two victories but were then poor in a home defeat by Lazio before struggling to force a draw at promoted Genoa, with the sequence of results leaving them sixth in the fledgling table.
A 2-1 midweek Champions League triumph at Braga has done little to sway the detractors of Garcia’s system – which is traditionally attack-focused but has so far failed to excite fans at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona who watched a team led by Luciano Spalletti swashbuckle their way to success in 2022-23.
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Garcia told a press conference before Sunday’s trip to Bologna: “We are an attacking team – we have always scored goals and we could have scored more, for example against Braga. Sometimes you need things to go a few millimetres the other way.
“We’ve conceded five goals in the league, which is too many, but we’ve only conceded eight shots, which means we are not out of position or conceding too many, but we certainly need to be more effective.”
On the Lazio loss, the Frenchman added: “If we’d played better in the second half we would have taken some points so now we have to make up for the points lost when we’re away from home, in Bologna, where we are going to win.
“They’re a good team. I admired Thiago Motta as a player and I’m happy he’s also doing well as a coach. We are 100 per cent focused on tomorrow’s match.”
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was the star turn of the Partenopei surge to Scudetto glory last term, with his 12 goals and 13 assists helping to fire Napoli to their first title since 1990.
However he has failed to score at all since March 19 and Garcia has so far struggled to find a position in which the 22-year-old Georgia international can recapture that scintillating form.
He lasted barely an hour at Braga and Bologna will hope his sense of frustration is not too strong when he arrives at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.
The Rossoblu have also put together an eclectic set of results so far this season, following up their first win – against Cagliari – with a low-key draw against Hellas Verona on Monday night.
Boss Motta will not let his players become overwhelmed by the prospect of facing the reigning champions in their next match, telling La Gazzetto dello Sport: “We continue to work hard.
“We think about the next training session and game with the aim of always improving.
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“We know we are facing the champions next. I watching them play well in the Champions League, they had many scoring opportunities, they won and gained confidence from that.
“We have to focus on what we have to do and what we should avoid doing.
“Their wingers are good and they have excellent players through the middle, too.”