(Reuters) – Napoli are looking forward to facing Juventus on Saturday, coach Luciano Spalletti said, with his side in near-top condition and their opponents missing several key players involved in international games.
Juve’s hopes of getting a result in one of their trickiest away games of the season was complicated by problems caused by the international break.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri said earlier on Friday that five South Americans – Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Rodrigo Bentancur, Danilo and Alex Sandro – would be left at home after being involved in international fixtures as recently as the early hours of Friday morning.
Goalkeeper David Ospina was the only Napoli player to feature in those games.
“It is clear that with these national team games, and the long flights, some problems emerge. It will influence this round of league fixtures, penalising some teams,” Spalletti told a news conference.
“It is a bit like going to the theatre and not finding the best actors.”
The two sides head into the game at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in contrasting form, with Spalletti’s side winning their two matches so far and Juve picking up one point.
“Anyone who has dreamed about football since they were a child like me was dreaming about these big games, the taste of rivalry. The players want to go out and play, we are in an optimal situation,” Spalletti said.
He added: “The players are very well. Those who had to do these international matches and flights naturally have some muscular and mental fatigue.
“Stanislav Lobotka is not very well, and we have to see with Piotr Zielinski. There are others we have to evaluate. But there are other players who have trained well to give an important contribution in this match.”
Spalletti revealed that new signing Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is set to make his debut against Juventus, having joined on loan from Fulham on transfer deadline day last month.
“Frank, as he prefers to be known, has shown from the moment he greeted his team mates that he belongs at this level,” Spalletti said.
“He will be very useful for us because we do not have a player with his characteristics elsewhere in the squad. He is what we were looking for to complete the midfield and tomorrow he will play because he is ready.”
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)