Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Can this season really be Napoli’s shot at Scudetto glory?

Michelle Bonsu in Editorial, Serie A 12 Oct 2017

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Seven games, seven wins. As things stand, one team sits on top of the Serie A table, and it’s not Juventus.

Rather, it’s Napoli who boast the perfect 100 per cent win record. This Saturday will truly be a feast for Serie A fans as the Partenopei will lock horns with Roma, whilst reigning champs Juventus take on Lazio. Currently, Maurizio Sarri’s men enjoy a two point lead over the chasing pack, albeit that could evaporate should the Bianconeri defeat Lazio in the earlier fixture.

Of course, Napoli really won’t be focused too much on whatever Juventus does, as the Bianconeri are a formidable opponent at the Allianz Stadium. They have yet to concede a goal there and have yet to drop points on home turf. What is making this season’s title race more interesting is many have started to wonder if this could finally be the one that sees someone end Juve’s stranglehold on the Scudetto.

For the past six seasons, it’s been all about La Vecchia Signora. However, the Partenopei were pretty impressive themselves last term, and probably could have pushed Massimiliano Allegri’s side till the end. The fact that they lost their out-and-out striker, Arkadiusz Milik due to injury, who was brought in to replace Gonzalo Higuain and Dries Mertens, a natural midfielder, was able to easily slot in and shoulder much of the goal-scoring responsibilities is a testament to Sarri’s management skills, and they only finished just five points behind Juventus and one behind second-placed Roma.

One area Napoli did struggle was keeping things tight in defense, where they lost fixtures to the likes of Atalanta (both home and away), whilst they were unable to hang on for a draw with Juventus and were also beaten by Roma. In the second half of the season, however, they did draw the Bianconeri (at the Stadio San Paolo) and beat Roma (ad the Stadio Olimpico), leaving many to wonder had they managed the same kind of performances in the first half could things have been different?

Currently, they have definitely made some big improvements in defense. Only Inter, who have conceded three goals, have let in fewer goals than Napoli’s five, whilst their high-flying attack have fired in 25 goals. Unlike Juventus, they’re not really expected to go far in this season’s Champions League, as the Bianconeri have made it to two finals in three seasons and have been frustrated to come up short. Thus, as the campaign heats up, Napoli will definitely have less pressure on them as they will fully be able to further commit themselves to the league campaign and that firmly could play into their hands.

All in all, this indeed could be Napoli’s season to finally get their hands on the title that has eluded them for over two decades. They have already beaten Lazio at the same Stadio Olimpico this season. And whilst Roma are coming into this fixture having won four in a row, including three consecutive clean sheets – the most recent a 2-0 win over AC Milan, it’s no surprise that Napoli are backed at 11/4 to come out on top in a highly entertaining clash against the Giallorossi that should see both teams find the back of the net.


Michelle Bonsu

A freelance writer and student who is as passionate about fashion as she is about football, Michelle Bonsu currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews.com, LiveSoccerTV.com, Football-Italia, Top-Soccer, LeagueLane.com, and Soccer 360 magazine. Her areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, and Ligue 1, but she has also written match previews for MLS and the Primeira Liga.



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