Salernitana coach Davide Nicola keeps his players focused on the final game after a dramatic 1-1 draw with Empoli. ‘In order to achieve something, we must risk losing everything.’
When Nicola took over as their third coach of the campaign, their situation seemed to be beyond all help, yet he has pushed them up the standings and it could go down to the wire.
Serie A | Empoli 1-1 Salernitana: Penalty save blows race wide open
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Federico Bonazzoli’s over-head kick cancelled out the Patrick Cutrone opener, but Diego Perotti saw a late penalty saved by Guglielmo Vicario.
“I don’t think we started well in the first half, especially as it was the first time we played in this heat,” Nicola told DAZN.
“Inevitably the final step we’re trying to make is play increasingly decisive games, as the final one will be. I’ve said that from the first day I arrived.
“We need to battle from start to finish. We cannot objectively do more than the lads are already doing. I challenge anyone to say Salernitana are not proving they deserve to be in Serie A.”
They are now unbeaten in seven rounds, but would already be safe if not for the last two 1-1 draws with Cagliari and Empoli.
“There can be no fear of making mistakes, because we knew from day one we would have to take risks to get out of this situation and we’ll do it to the end. In the second half, we left behind those doubts and had a wonderful performance.
“Now let’s press the reset button and prepare for the final challenge.”
Nicola encouraged Salernitana too, throwing on more attacking players.
“I’ve been trying to drill into their minds that in order to achieve something, we must risk losing everything. We cannot play tense or clammed up, because we can’t express ourselves that way. The only reason Salernitana reached this stage is because we took huge risks in a situation where we had nothing to lose.
“Having said that, the midfield was left open to counter-attacks a bit too much in the second half and we lost our balance, allowing Empoli seven or eight counters.”
Perotti was absolutely distraught at the final whistle, realising how costly that saved penalty could be, as he crumpled to his knees in tears.
“Diego is an extraordinary player, this is part of the game. We are proud of our performances and are glad we will be able to play for our safety in front of our home fans. It’s been a battle since the start and it will be to the end.”
In theory, Cagliari could leapfrog Salernitana tomorrow, but to do that they would need to beat Scudetto-chasing Inter.