Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Napoli – Chasing the Scudetto?

Editor’s Note:  We at LWOS are always on the look-out for the most passionate sports fans to add to our staff.  We are very excited to add Joe Fazzari, who will be covering his Napoli from Serie A.  Welcome to the #LastWordArmy, Joe!

This is my first article writing about my favorite Serie A team, Napoli, the Partenopei. To be honest, my first love (still is) is hockey. I grew up playing, watching and living hockey. I would watch Serie A on occasion as a casual fan, not supporting any particular team.  Also, as a proud Italian-Canadian, I would watch all big football events that Italy took part in – World Cup, Euros, etc.

However, in 2007-08, my grandfather who’s love and passion for the game of football I will always remember, introduced me to Napoli.  He explained to me how it was his team and their history; Maradona’s glory years, the downfall. Now, it was the first time in a while that Napoli was back in Serie A and he was excited. From that moment on, I became a “tifoso” and now I am passionate about Napoli and football.

Being a Napoli fan over the last few years has been a rollercoaster ride. From qualifying for Champions League to losing in the Round of 16 vs eventual winner Chelsea. Then winning Coppa Italia only to be embarrassed in Europa League in the Round of 32 (5-0 on aggregate). In the end, progress has been made and the team is growing in popularity and quality.

Another rollercoaster ride for Napoli fans is the transfer market. Although there has been more “downs” then “ups”, we as fans do not know what to expect from owner/president Aurelio De Laurentiis (ADL). For example, in the last two years, Napoli has lost their two biggest names to PSG – Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Napoli has a new boss at the helm, Rafael Benítez. He brings to Napoli Champions League experience and a winning record.  Napoli fans are hoping his second stint in Italy goes a lot better than his first (lasted only 25 games with Inter).  Benítez brings a different managerial and formation approach then what Napoli fans have been used to the last 3 years while Walter Mazzari was manager. Benitez will most probably use his form of choice 4-2-3-1 whereas Mazzari employed a 3-5-2. Also, with Cavani’s departure, Benitez will need to rely on a better team concept approach and scoring by committee to replace the goals scored by Cavani (29 during last campaign). That is where the purchases of Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon need to come into fruition (plus any other strikers brought into the fold).

There is still an underlying issue with the team that needs to be resolved. That is the stadium, Stadio San Paolo. Recently UEFA had to inspect the stadium to see if Napoli could play Champions League matches – thankfully it passed the inspection. The issue is the stadium belongs to the city and not the team. The owner, ADL, is trying to convince the city to allow him to buy it from them (still to no avail) so he can invest money into the stadium and give it a facelift.

This year expectations
As a fan, I expect only the best from Napoli, however I am realistic. I would like to see them battle for the “Scudetto” all season. For Champions League, depending on the draw and matches, I hope to see Napoli get through the group stage and this time to make it to the quarter-finals.  I would like to see them improve their game play versus weaker opponents, have a better “killer instinct” to close off games and better defending on set-pieces.

Napoli will be employing a new system with a back 4. This will be new for the team and current roster players. Depending on the transfer market, this is the area where their needs to be improvements and upgrades.

I am glad to see the true heart of Napoli and future captain Marek Hamsik still be part of the team. This will be a big year for Hamsik to prove his play-making ability without Cavani (Hamsik had 14 assists, most in Serie A).

This year I believe there is a player who will take Serie A by storm – Lorenzo Insigne. Although he his small in stature (5’4”), he plays with his heart on his sleeve and love for his hometown. I would like to see Insigne have more playing time and used on a more regular basis.

Another player I have high hopes for due to the recent coaching change is Gokhan Inler. He had a very up and down season (especially near the end of the year, when Dzemaili was playing lights out). He needs to be the rock in the midfield and use his long range shot more wisely.

In the end, I hope all goes well for Napoli and the money that gets invested into the team has a high return. Napoli fans want a Scudetto!

Forza Napoli, Forza sempre.


Thanks for reading!  You can follow me on twitter –@JoeyFazzGive the site a follow while you’re at it – @LastWordOnSport.

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