MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti believes there is a simple reason that his side have been dropping points over the last six weeks; they are not cunning enough.
Third-placed Inter host second-placed Napoli in Serie A’s new Boxing Day programme on Wednesday, having slipped eight points behind their opponents.
The two sides were level in early November, but while Inter have been letting matches get away, Napoli have done exactly the opposite and have won their last three Serie A away games with a goal in the last 10 minutes.
Inter dropped two more points on Saturday when they conceded an injury-time equaliser against bottom-of-the-table Chievo and were held 1-1, much to Spalletti’s frustration.
“Clearly, we have to work better on these situations, as we had so many chances to kill off the game and didn’t take them,” said the former AS Roma and Zenit St Petersburg coach.
“We still can’t manage to be determined enough but we’ve got quality and when we have the advantage in a match, we need to use it to bring home the result.
“We need to be more cunning,” added Spalletti who has also seen his side twice throw away the lead in a 2-2 draw at AS Roma and lose 1-0 at leaders Juventus despite creating more clear cut chances. “Sometimes, we don’t make the right choices, therefore we don’t get the most out of ourselves.”
Inter will again be without their prize summer signing Radja Nainggolan in midfield, this time after the club suspended him for what it described as “disciplinary reasons.”
The combative, heavily-tattooed Belgian, who according to Italian media arrived late for training several times in the previous weeks, has not made the expected impact since his move from Roma in the summer, partly due to injury.
Napoli are the only team with any serious hope of stopping Juventus from winning an eighth successive title, although even they are eight points behind. The Turin side, who have dropped only two points in their first 17 games, visit Atalanta earlier on Wednesday.
“We are pretty much doing as expected,” said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti whose side have won their last four league games and not conceded a goal in their last three games.
“The championship is still open, not because of the points difference, but because there is such a long way to go,” he said.
“If we start thinking about Juventus, we run the risk of getting demoralised. We should just think about ourselves and try and improve.
“We intend to be competitive until the end of the championship. We managed to scrape together wins even when we do not play very well.”
Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar