Everything is primed for Napoli to win Serie A
The enduring image of the mid and late 1980s was a stocky Argentine leading a team of average players to success after success with his undoubted brilliance and force of nature. Napoli fans couldn’t quite believe their ears when it was announced that maverick Argentine footballer, Diego Maradona would be playing for the side, and his unveiling at the Stadio San Paolo has become a stuff of legend.
The reason Maradona left Barcelona for Naples has never been explained, but a football-mad city with the ability to worship a legend appealed to him more than most. Maradona changed the complexion of the team, and more than 25 years after, no player has been deemed worthy to wear his revered no 10 jersey. This season, however, the Naples based side are looking like the real deal, a team hell-bent on winning that they’d abandon the prospect of playing in the knockout stages of the Champions League in a bid to wrest league dominance from the vice-like grip of Juventus.
The Partenopei are currently on 35 points from a possible 39 after 13 rounds of matches and though many still tip Juventus for the title, the Serie A champions know that Napoli will offer some resistance. In Maurizio Sarri, a lawyer turned football coach, they have a personality who can see them over the finish line.
Obsessed with tactics in the Italian manager way, Sarri ticks all the boxes as he has taken a personal approach to helping Napoli win the title. With a band of players that have taken his attacking movements philosophy to a new dimension, Napoli are poetry in motion, consistently bamboozling opponents with their passing and movement of the likes of Insigne, Hamsik, Callejon and club talisman, Dries Mertens.
The club sold Gonzalo Higuain, another Argentine who was expected to take over the mantle of leading the club to a glorious era. However, the striker is not one for such emotional attachments to clubs, as he felt he had more ambition than a club of Napoli’s ilk. However, it is fair to say that Napoli haven’t missed the striker, now at Juventus as they boast a player capable of filling his boots and doing so much more. Dries Mertens has taken over the mantle of goalscoring at the club after being converted into a striker by Sarri, yet another masterstroke from the cigar-smoking manager.
Club president, Aurelio de Laurentiis is leaving no stone unturned in a bid to make the club win the league as the wily old administrator is bent on delivering the title for the fans, who have seen bitter rivals, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus achieve so much in the years of their underachievement.
Juventus are not currently firing on all fronts, and lost 3-2 over the weekend, while Napoli passed a huge test of their title credentials with a 2-1 win over AC Milan. The league isn’t won in November, meaning that the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan and Roma will challenge for the title.
Naples, a football-mad city deserves a title after so many years, and perhaps a player will inherit Maradona’s shirt. Romance, emotion and love still exist in football.