Napoli's Maurizio Sarri: 'Juventus have to consider us as their main rivals'
Maurizio Sarri is filled with a sense of pride that he can take his Napoli team to Juventus as favourites to win a Serie A title showdown.
The league-leading Azzurri protected their two-point advantage over Juve by beating Carpi 1-0 thanks to a Gonzalo Higuain penalty in Naples, with the Bianconeri maintaining their pursuit with a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Frosinone.
The Scudetto rivals will now go head-to-head at the Juventus Stadium on Saturday and, while he was keen to emphasise just how difficult it will be to claim three points in Turin, head coach Sarri is confident in his team's ability.
"We are delighted and proud that Juve have to consider us as their main rivals for the title," he told Napoli's official website.
"We will go up there looking to make our people proud.
"Juve have been the strongest team of the last few years, they're a really well-drilled unit who are used to winning.
"Going to Turin to face them when we're already two points ahead gives us great motivation and a sense of pride."
The former Empoli boss refused to describe the encounter as a "watershed" game for either club, however.
"I can't think that way because after the Turin game there are 13 more matches to play," he said. "It's not helpful, therefore, to consider it as some kind of watershed moment in the season."
Referring to the slender victory over Carpi, which only went Napoli's way after Raffaele Bianco's dismissal opened up some extra space for his midfielders, Sarri praised his players for staying cool under pressure.
He added: "The lads managed to remain calm and did not resort to playing gung-ho football to find a goal.
"It was certainly a difficult game and I think there were a few refereeing decisions that went against us, especially when [Jose] Callejon was fouled in their penalty area in the first half. That seemed very clear to me.
"But I don't think you can say we suffered too much as [Jose] Reina didn't have a save to make. The only struggle was in finding a way to unlock the game and we did that, so the team showed great mental strength."
Fabrizio Castori, whose Carpi side are 18th and five points from safety, believed the Biancorossi deserved a point.
He told La Repubblica Sport: "We have to accept what's happened but if you watch the game back you'll realise how hard it is for us to do so.
"The thing that encourages me is that the team are playing at such a high level. We have to keep calm, not get nervous, and the results will come."