13th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Napoli's record breaking start to the season has seen them remarkably become the first team in Serie A history to win their first seven league fixtures while scoring at least 25 goals.
Moreover, the fact Maurizio Sarri's men have now won 12 straight league games and are unbeaten in 29 dating back to last season, serves as further testament to the wonderful work done by their managerial mastermind.
Sitting atop the division, two points ahead of Juventus, this Napoli have firmly cemented themselves as prime candidates to end the club's 28 year wait for a Serie A title, with their last crown coming in 1989 when the legendary Diego Maradona famously led them to glory.
In their latest victory, a 3-0 thumping of Cagliari, a constant theme in their sensational start to the campaign was once again on show, as their left sided dynamics proved crucial in their dismantling of the Rossoblu.
By persistently creating customary overloads on the left, accompanied by superbly coordinated movements, the Partenopei were able to manufacture ideal conditions to progress in this area of the pitch.
Left back, Faouzi Ghoulam, left winger, Lorenzo Insigne, and left sided central midfield, Marek Hamsik, were the main instigators in their success in this area. But the especially important shifting movements of centre forward in Dries Mertens and holding midfielder, Jorginho, were also crucial.
Forming excellent triangles and diamonds, they did a sterling job of fostering strong connections to ensure they could pass through the Cagliari wide structure. Showing ideal timing in their movements and a smart capacity to manipulate their opposition, Napoli could subsequently enjoy 4v2 or 4v3 numerical superiority to swiftly move into the final third.
Helped massively by diagonal third man runs into depth, that usually began on the blindside of their opponent, plus subtle positional rotations to cause confusion for their markers, the afore worked wonders in enabling them to cause additional carnage.
The terrific passing, ball control and decision making of the aforementioned Napoli players were all vital in allowing them to remain unfazed under pressure and execute their desired actions with precision and pace. In addition, if they couldn't find a way through, they'd purposefully recirculate possession and either switch the ball to Jose Callejon or Elseid Hysaj on the underloaded right side in isolation scenarios or try again to penetrate down the left.
Indeed, this game once more gave another glowing reference as to why their systematic methodology on the left is such an integral aspect of their gameplan, which made it hardly surprising Napoli funnelled 52% of their attacks down this side.
With a huge game coming up against AS Roma on the weekend, Sarri is confident his team are ready for the challenge and capable of overcoming Eusebio Di Francesco's talented troops. "Di Francesco is very good and Roma is strong. The away match pitfalls are obvious, the strong team puts you in trouble for sure. So far he has won 5 and lost 1 and has a game in hand. It is definitely competitive, but my Napoli is ready."
Courtesy of the €8m release clause in his contract, that leaves him with the possibility of leaving if another club meets it, the in demand 58-year-old tactician positively insisted he has no plans of going anywhere just yet, however. Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli's entertaining president, then unequivocally backed his manager by telling La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Right now, I would not swap Maurizio Sarri even for Pep Guardiola.
"We've created the conditions for him to work well, so why should he leave? I like Sarri even with his tracksuit, which is a great way of attracting attention. In a great Napoli side which is getting people hooked like a TV series, Sarri is a key personality."
The challenge now will be to keep up their fantastically high performance level and continue their exceptional winning streak. Who knows, if they can do precisely that, then there's every chance the Little Donkeys just might be able to finally deliver a long awaited Scudetto to their passionate supporters.
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Can Napoli Secure the Serie A Title in 2017/18?
13th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.