Napoli cannot afford 'slightest mistake' as Empoli collapse haunts Spalletti
Luciano Spalletti says Napoli cannot afford to make "the slightest mistake" when they visit Empoli on Saturday, having seen their Scudetto bid derailed by the same opponents last season.
Napoli are 15 points clear of Inter at the Serie A summit ahead of their trip to the Stadio Carlo Castellani, and appear destined to win their first league title since the Diego Maradona era.
However, Empoli have only lost one of their nine home games against Napoli in Serie A, winning four and drawing four – with last campaign's contest having a huge impact on the title race.
Napoli squandered a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes as they succumbed to a 3-2 defeat at Empoli last April, a result which all but ended their hopes of beating Milan and Inter to the Scudetto.
Despite Napoli's seven-game winning streak making them overwhelming title favourites, Spalletti is wary of the threat posed by a side he represented as both a player and as head coach.
"Don't get confused between work and superstition," Spalletti said. "Here, we work in the right way.
"The match with Empoli [last season] destroyed our whole year of work, we could have won 3-0 and instead we lost, it was devastating. We suffered a lot.
"We want to win for our city, we feel it. We can't make the slightest mistake. Sometimes, they happen unexpectedly and determine the fate of the whole situation.
"The euphoria we have cannot become presumption, which would stop us from growing."
Empoli are one of just two teams – the other being Inter – to have beaten Napoli twice across the last two Serie A campaigns, doing the double over the Partenopei last term.
However, Napoli appear to be a different beast this campaign, and Spalletti's men have even been touted as contenders to win the Champions League following Tuesday's 2-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Asked whether his side should be held up as an example for others to follow, Spalletti said: "I don't know if we can become a role model.
"Our approach is this, to play good football with our characteristics and to achieve as many results as possible. We are pleased with the compliments, of course."