May 13, 2018 / 10:43 PM / in 4 months

Napoli lost the title in a hotel, not on the pitch, says coach

MILAN (Reuters) - Napoli lost the Serie A title in a hotel watching Juventus, rather than on the pitch, their coach Maurizio Sarri said on Sunday after their rivals clinched a seventh successive scudetto.

Sarri said the crucial moment in the title race came two weeks ago when his players watched Juventus score twice in the last five minutes to win 3-2 at Inter Milan.

A Juventus defeat would have left Napoli one point behind with a chance to go top by winning at Fiorentina the following day. Instead, Napoli went into the Fiorentina game trailing by four points and lost 3-0.

“We should have gone to bed earlier,” said Sarri, after their 2-0 win at Sampdoria on Sunday proved to be in vain.

“The team suffered a psychological blow because of the way that match went. I’m disappointed that we lost the championship in a hotel and not on the pitch.”

Sarri repeated his complaint that Juventus habitually played their matches before Napoli.

“We have to become mentally stronger and less sensitive but Serie A also has to improve,” he said.

“In the last 16 rounds of matches, we played after Juventus on 14 occasions. As Juve won nearly all those games, that made it difficult for us.”

He added: “I can’t say if Juventus are the best team and deserve the title, because I haven’t watched them often enough. But they are certainly the most powerful, in every way.”

Sarri, who has led Napoli to two runners-up spots and a third place in his three seasons in charge, gave little away on his own future, which has been the subject of speculation.

“I deeply love the city and the fans and this sentiment will never change, no matter how the story finishes,” he said.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Toby Davis

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