31 years on and the glory days may be returning to Naples after a blistering start to the season. Napoli have played six and won six, scoring 16 goals and conceding just twice. Only Paris Saint-Germain have a 100 per cent record in Europe’s top five leagues.
If they are to go on to win the Scudetto this season, it will have extra poignancy after the death of Diego Maradona last November.
Here is a look at how Napoli have produced such a blistering start to the season.
Can Napoli End 31 Year Wait for Serie A Title?
Inspiring Form of Striker Victor Osimhen
In July 2020, Napoli signed Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen for a club-record fee worth more than €81.3 million from French outfit, Lille.
The 22-year-old had a disappointing first season in Serie A scoring just ten goals in 24 appearances. However, the striker has made a fantastic start to the season. He has scored four goals already in just five Serie A games.
His performances have been key to Napoli’s stunning start to the league season. Osimhen’s displays have led to him being compared to Thierry Henry. He has a long way to go to match the great Frenchman’s achievements but at just 22 years of age, Osimhen is one of the most talented young strikers in Europe.
He possesses all of the qualities you look for in a modern striker such as speed, height, movement and is also willing to press and trackback in defence. If Napoli are to win the Scudetto, it will be crucial that the 22-year-old stays fit and keep up this form.
Napoli Playing with Freedom Under Luciano Spalletti
Last season, was a big disappointment for Napoli. They finished outside the top four which meant they missed out on a Champions League spot. That failure led to the sacking of Gennaro Gattuso with former Inter Milan and Roma manager Luciano Spalletti replacing him.
So far, it looks to be a marriage made in heaven. The Napoli players seem to be playing with more freedom under Spalletti than they did under Gattuso.
The 62-year-old has also got the best out of record signing Victor Osimhen. Also, the loan signing of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa from Fulham has added much-needed balance and physicality to midfield.
There has also been a welcome return to form of Kalidou Koulibaly. The centre-back wasn’t at his best last season, with constant speculation surrounding his future probably the main cause of it.
A key to their success so far has been the strong spine to the side. With Koulibaly at centre-back, Anguissa in midfield, and Osimhen upfront, it is a tough combination of power, pace, and athletism.
Add in the attacking qualities of Italian Euro 2020 hero, Lorenzo Insigne, it is a combination that will be tough to stop. So far Spalletti is getting the best out of them.
Title Rivals are Weaker
This season is a great opportunity for a club like Napoli to win Serie A. Last season’s title winners Inter Milan are considerably weaker with the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, and manager Antonio Conte.
The Nerazzurri have had a sluggish start to the season and are currently four points behind Napoli after six Serie A games. It has been an even worse start for fellow title rivals Juventus. The Bianconeri have picked up just eight points out of a possible 18 so far this season.
Despite, the return of manager Massimiliano Allegri who has won five Scudettos with the club, it has been clear that they are struggling with the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United and are already ten points behind Napoli.
The early struggles of Napoli’s title rivals is great news for Spalletti’s side. However, there are still big question marks over whether the Neapolitans have the strength in depth to maintain a title challenge over the course of the season.
But their early season form will have Napoli fans dreaming that a repeat of their 1990 Scudetto triumph could be on the cards this season.