After a 0-0 draw in Serie A against Fiorentina and a limp performance in the Champions League against Feyenoord, the conversation that many had been itching to have start finally got underway, with the lead question being: “Have Napoli got the strength in depth and quality to maintain the pace in the race for the Scudetto?”
As is often the case when a much-admired team with an enthralling style of play suddenly hit a bump in the road, their whole approach suddenly comes under question. They are accused of having no plan B, being burnt out and lacking enough quality throughout the squad to go the full distance.
But let’s not forget the Partenopei got the season off a flying start, with their only defeat so far coming against reigning Serie A champions Juventus. So is it just a case that anything other than perfection is not good enough? Are Sarri’s men not allowed to suffer a defeat to the league’s dominant team without every molecule of their model being put under the microscope? Or is a little more to it than that.
A lucky streak?
For a while, Coach Maurizio Sarri was like the popular guy enjoying a winning streak at the casino, everyone keen to understand his secret. But after a couple of bad calls, the great and good of the football world are now asking: “why don’t you try a different tactic?”
As any casino goer knows, it’s not about winning every time, it’s about winning enough in the long term to come out on top. And that is where the real test comes in. All of a sudden, the bookies are not convinced that title-holders Juventus can be toppled. A quick browse of the Leo Vegas casino review, where a brand new sportsbook has just been launched revealed a price of 6/4 for Napoli, while Juve were clear favourites at 27/20.
High tempo taking its toll
It must be said that the team that Pep Guardiola proclaimed as “the best I have ever faced” have looked a little jaded in recent weeks. That in itself is not normal as every club can expect fitness levels of key players to peak and tough during the campaign but with Napoli, their quality starts to run a little thin beyond the preferred starting XI, leaving them with few options to rotate. They have tried to manage this by not giving their full attention to their Champions League campaign, especially once the prospect of a title charge became a reality. But they seemed to have put so much into the first half of the campaign that it is now hard to imagine them going the distance.
Some will point to the absence of Faouzi Ghoulam due to an ACL injury as a prime example of their lack of depth, with his replacement, Mario Rui, clearly not at the same level. However, in the few games where there is an opportunity to rotate, against weaker clubs in the division, Sarri is still reluctant to do so. And this stubbornness looks to be taking its toll, with Insigne the latest to have succumbed to injury following his brief involvement in Italy’s disastrous World Cup play-off.
So while Napoli’s title hopes may still be alive, there is a massive challenge ahead for the Coach and his over-worked squad.