A simple search on Twitter for ‘Sarri football’, ‘Napoli football’ or even ‘SarriBall’ will bring up a plethora of videos. They are all showcasing Napoli’s scintillating football, and it’s quickly becoming a trend.
Pass. Move. Triangles. High tempo. Combination play. Goals. Lots of them.
It’s no secret at this point that Maurizio Sarri’s side are fantastic to watch. They one-upped their 2015-16 campaign last year, entertainment wise, scoring more goals, amassing more points, and ultimately, Dries Mertens improved their style of play.
The Partenopei’s main edge over their competitors this season is consistency, as previously discussed on Football Italia. The goal of this summer was to not lose any key players, which they haven’t, and don’t look like doing for the rest of the summer.
The second was to add depth, as their high-octane style takes a toll on their players. Sarri has avoided rotating, specifically in his first season, often playing his first team in Europa League matches. Whether this was to do with his philosophy towards playing his best players or the fact he didn’t like his back-ups, we’ll find out this season.
Left-back Mario Rui has come in, who Sarri knows well from their shared Empoli days, whilst intriguing Adam Ounas will provide depth on the wings. Aside from that, Partenopei will go into this season with essentially the same XI they’ve had since Sarri took over. In an era of players chasing money and silverware, it’s a testament to the project at the San Paolo that players are staying in to their prime years.
So, what makes this year’s edition of Napoli so much more appealing? There seems to be a real buzz that they could win their first Scudetto since 1990. This is the first time since the Bianconeri’s dominance began that there are genuine doubts surrounding their supremacy, and the Supercoppa defeat to Lazio has done nothing to change that.
Witnessing history and greatness is one of the main reasons I personally watch sports, if Napoli were to do it this season, we’d witness the first ‘non-big three’ team to win a Scudetto since 2001. It’ll become clear in the first few weeks of the season how much Juventus have potentially regressed and how serious Napoli are for the Scudetto.
Trophies are certainly not the be-all, end-all of football, as some fans may put forward. It’s incredibly reductive of what is an absolutely beautiful sport to say that only trophies matter.
While silverware is fun, the style of football and how your team play the game can be a much more rewarding and easily accessible way of gaining joy out of the game. If everyone judged their seasons by silverware, only a handful of clubs across the globe would be happy each season.
I think it’s actually being underrated how great a period this is for the Azzurri. They lost out against an all-time great Juventus team in 2016, they broke a club record for points won last season, and they have the whole of Europe applauding their style of play.
For history to be made this season, I think Piotr Zielinski has to start over Allan, who has stagnated from his early 2015-16 form. They will most likely score the most goals in the league, so their improvements should be focused in the defensive areas. If Nikola Maksimovic can regain his Torino form, and Napoli’s defence perform as expected, they could have the solidity to match their attacking prowess.
There’s one thing that’s guaranteed when you watch Napoli: enjoyment. Isn’t that exactly what we watch this game for? If you’re not already tuning into SarriBall, week in, week out, this is most definitely the year to start.