The State of the Serie A: Why Napoli are the dark horses this season

Like Tottenham Hotspur in England; Italy’s S.S.C. Napoli have come very close to winning their country’s domestic league title; Serie A in recent years.

Last season they eventually finished in 3rd position, only 5 points behind eventual winners Juventus. Along with Roma, the Naples outfit have been knocking on the door for their first Scudetto since 1990 for some time now.

Also like Spurs, Napoli have been comparatively less showy in the transfer market in contrast to the big spending AC Milan.

But with the league’s best goal difference last year, perhaps only minor tinkering was needed anyway.


Decent signings have added depth and quality

In signing £18 million Serbian central defender Nikola Maksimovic, Napoli have added quality to partner Kalidou Koulibaly.

Defense is the area that let the team down last season and the former Torino man adds height, power, and most importantly, options at the back.

Marko Rog from Croatia and French winger Adam Ounas will give some much needed cover and reinforcements in midfield.

Both signings provide trickery and quality. Napoli will more than likely have Champions league football this season, so options are necessary.

In terms of goals, the Gli Azzurri have plenty to offer.

The might of Gonzalo Higuain has been well and truly replaced, primarily in the form of Dries Mertens, who was the club’s top scorer last season with 35 in all competitions.

Skipper Marik Hamsik and local boy Lorenzo Insigne provided much of the other goals too, and should do the same this season provided injury doesn’t blight them.

Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik is always dangerous, as he demonstrated with a goal in Napoli’s comprehensive 3:1 victory away to Verona in Serie’s opening weekend.


Not enough experience in winning trophies

That being said, Napoli are seen as more of a cup team at the moment.

They’ve had success in the Coppa Italia with wins in 2012 and 2014, but nothing since.

Winning silverware consistently is a hard habit to start when you’ve had a barren spell and this club needs a trophy this season to start building that momentum and belief for the future.

To win any league you need consistency of form from August to May, something Napoli have fallen just short of in the past.


Unproven manager

Manager Maurizio Sarri is a very able coach, but he’s more workmanlike than spectacular.

In the past he’s been awarded Serie A’s Panchino d’Argento award which is a great honour, but he still has no major managerial honours to his name.

Napoli perhaps may still need an experienced winner to take them to the next level.


It’s possible but still a long shot

If S.S.C. Napoli are to deliver a title, they’ll need a lot of luck with injuries; as they still have a thinner squad than the other contenders, but they’ll also need to win the big games against the Milans and Juventus’.

Finally, they’ll have to turn some of last year’s draws into wins. Perhaps the Champions League should merely be treated as a competition to try out new personnel, styles, and tactics.

In the midst of all the noise in Milan and Turin; Napoli are the team that nobody is talking about as much, and that is the way the southerners would like to keep it.

Until next May, that is.


Written by Nicholas Behan

Follow Nicholas on Twitter @NicholasBehan

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