When the Italian season started around a month and a half ago many people predicted that Napoli would do quite well. NapoliFew however foresaw just how well the first batch of games would go for the Vesuviani. Apart from a sad 0-3 glitch away to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in Europa League and theAi?? controversial injury time defeat to Juventus in the Italian super cup, Napoli have won points in every single match. Ai??

In Serie A the southerners have started better than their famous ancestors in light blue when they won two Scudetti in the late 1980’s under the guidance of Diego Maradona. An impressive six wins and one draw leaves them in second place in the table right in the wake of leaders and favorites Juventus. More and more people seem to think that Napoli have a genuine chance of winning the league. While it is doubtful that it will happen, something has changed within the Napoli team. Let us take a look at these changes and how they have impacted their performance.Ai??

The sale of the forward ace Ezequiel Lavezzi and midfield fighter Walter Gargano left a lot of fans and several pundits worried that the club was taking a step down in both quality and ambition. In fact the opposite seems to have happened.

First of all the club sold two players who wanted to leave. To say goodbye to players who have their hearts and minds elsewhere is most often a wise decision. Especially when the club already had replacements lined up in the horizon. Instead of Lavezzi, Napoli chose to bring back Lorenzo Insigne from a successful loan spell in Pescara. As a more or less direct replacement of Gargano the experienced Swiss international Valon Behrami was bought in Fiorentina. In themselves they are not stronger than the players they replaced, but they have brought fresh energy and eagerness into the team.Ai??

Insigne and Behrami were joined by the right sided midfielder Giandomenico Mesto from Genoa and defender Allesandro Gamberini from Fiorentina in what appeared like a lackluster transfer window but ended up as a big enhancement of the side’s depth. Especially the addition of Gamberini in the back is good as he has vast Serie A experience and has played for a club like Fiorentina with distinction. Veteran Salvatore Aronica can now be used as a back-up, which probably suits his quality or, lack thereof (especially going forward), better. The former Viola man’s presence also compensates for the seemingly endless injuries hampering Brazilian full-back Miguel Britos.Ai??

If depth is one thing then experience is another. With the exception of Insigne most of the regular starters are highly experienced players. Some like Hamsik, Maggio, and Cannavaro have taken a long ride with Napoli to become the established and secure players they are today. Others like De Sanctis, Pandev, and Gamberini bring ideas and strength from long careers elsewhere. Slovakian playmaker Hamsik seems to have matured in the absence of Lavezzi and has started the new season with a bang. He now has more creative freedom thanks to the absence of Lavezzi and has caused more problems to opponents with his unpredictable movement. Goran Pandev and ever improving Edinson Cavani have found enough space to decide almost every game so far.Ai??Cavani has started where he left off last season and is possibly the best striker in the peninsula right now.

Napoli have opted for a 100% focus on Serie A so far. This means that they treat the Europa League more or less as a training session for marginal players like the attacker Eduardo Vargas, midfielder Marco Donadel, and even the reserve goalkeeper Rosati. Napoliai??i??s Europa League campaign started off well after a 4-0 thumping of Swedish minnows AIK. However, they came up short against former European champions PSV in Eindhoven as they were humbled by a 3-0 score-line. Coach Walter Mazzarri is using Europa league as an arena to allow reserve bench players some much needed game time. Only time will tell if they are strong enough to take the club through the knock-out stages. As it stands, Napoli are still in a good position to navigate their way out safely from the group stage of Europa League. Ai??

With their extra level of maturity and the fresh blood induced into the squad, Napoli do seem like the real deal this year. They may not win the championship in competition with the winning machine that is Juventus, but a Champions League qualification is definitely the goal, a reasonable one. We will know much more in two weeks when Napoli play Juventus in Turin. The Milan derby might have taken place recently but the match between Napoli and Juventus will undoubtedly be the most awaited fixture of ongoing Serie A season. The result in that match may go a long way to make or break Napoliai??i??s 2012/13 season.

Article written by ThorbjA?rn Thaarup
ThorbjA?rn is founder of http://ponderingcalcio.net/

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3 Responses to “Napoli : Why They Are A Genuine Contender For Serie A Title”

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  1. Devrup Jyoti Gupta says:

    very good article…napoli are real contenders this time no doubt about it..one small mistake i would like to point out here is that miguel britos is not a fullback but he is a center-back and he is from Uruguay and not Brazil.

    • Thorbjørn Thaarup says:

      Hey there – I’m sorry for the mistakes regarding Britos. He is indeed a center back, even if he normally play to the left in the three man defence. I guess the mistake happened because I’m Danish and we don’t use the terms full back and center back in Danish. How I made him Brazilian is still a mystery to me however….

      I’m glad you liked the article though. :-)