Osimhen return makes up for Napoli's absences in Milan decider, says Spalletti

AFP , Monday 17 Apr 2023

Luciano Spalletti said Monday that the return of star striker Victor Osimhen will more than make up for the key players missing Napoli's Champions League quarter-final showdown with AC Milan.

In this file photo taken on March 11, 2023 Napoli s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen celebrates after Napoli opened the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Napoli and Atalanta at the Diego-Maradona stadium in Naples. AFP


Osimhen played his first minutes since the international break in Saturday's goalless draw with Verona -- hitting the bar -- and he will lead the line at the Stadio Maradona as Napoli look to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg and reach the last four for the first time.

That defeat at the San Siro also cost Napoli two key players for Tuesday night's clash, with midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and starting centre-back Kim Min-jae both suspended.

But Spalletti believes that the attacking threat posed by Serie A's leading scorer will have a bigger impact on the biggest European night in Napoli's history.

"We have a few absences... but we earn more with the presence of Osimhen than we lose with those absences because he will probably be left one-on-one as Milan come after you, they like to press," Spalletti told reporters.

"They're a team that plays a total, modern style of football... they'll already be thinking about him being left up there, as are we."

Napoli were the better side last week but without Osimhen missed a series of chances which allowed Milan to come away with victory.

Milan also seemed the more streetwise of the two teams and both Spalletti and Juan Jesus, who will replace Kim in the Napoli defence, both hinted at the need to be craftier in such a big game.

"I'll only be happy if we get through, there won't be much consolation from a good performance," added Spalletti.

"You always have the chance to overturn any deficit, and I expect the team to do everything necessary during the match to do that."

With Osimhen Napoli certainly have a fighting chance, as the Nigeria striker has netted 25 times in 30 matches in all competitions, including four in five Champions League appearances.

"Victor will be a problem for Milan's defence because he's on form, he's our top scorer and he shows every match that he's got the desire to keep doing even more," said Jesus.

"Let's hope he keep doing that."

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