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Saturday March 15 2014
The only way is Juve

Juventus as good as sealed the Scudetto, Dave Taylor suggests that if Napoli wants to grab second spot they need to take lessons from the Old Lady.

Last weekend the top four faced off with leaders Juventus and third-placed Napoli beating Fiorentina and Roma 1-0 respectively. For Coach Antonio Conte’s Juve it was almost a run of the mill win. Despite their victory Napoli found thatthe truth, like Pavarotti in a narrow corridor, was impossible to avoid as once again they showed their limitations. Yet if they want to overtake Roma and grab that automatic Champions League spot, they need to be as merciless as Conte and co.

The Bianconeri realised last October that they had to up the ante after losing 4-2 to sixth-placed Fiorentina to stay third, five points behind the then leaders Roma. Yet it wasn’t so much the defeat but more its nature that woke them up and since then they have set the pace and shown the rest of Serie A how to succeed.

Whether they score in the last minute or narrowly win 1-0, they know how to grab the points. Sometimes it’s with grace and subtlety, sometime it’s ugly, but the bottom line is that they win, whatever it takes. Last Sunday, the performance against Fiorentina was hardly convincing, but as usual it was a perfect example of this ability to succeed. As we all know, these are no flash in the pan victories.

Their superiority over the last two years was not built wholly on tactics and technical improvement. It has also been down to the winning mentality Conte imparts. This is the real building block that has delivered two successive Scudetti as Conte turned Juve into the sort of team he inspired in his playing days. This season especially, their grit and sheer doggedness in defence has served them well and this is what the Partenopei urgently need to copy.

The Vesuviani have failed miserably against teams they should be sweeping aside, drawing 1-1 with bottom of the table Sassuolo was a fine example, especially as the visitors had been hammered by Inter 7-0 just days earlier. Look no further than Bologna’s 90th minute sucker punch in the 2-2 draw. Think back to the disappointing defeats to Parma and Atalanta or the recent series of tiresome 1-1 draws at home with Genoa and Chievo, or Cagliari and Livorno away.

Coach Rafa Benitez is aware of the problem and in a massive understatement after the Roma game claimed Napoli had played better in the past, but still lost. “Today we wanted to win and we did it, maybe that’s what counts at this point,” said the Spaniard. “We’ve seen many games that Napoli played well and didn’t win.”

It certainly is what counts at this point and Napoli, like Juve do when necessary, need to forget playing well and start winning ugly, beginning with Torino on Monday.

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Have your say...
@razvan
Really? +14 points over second spot is burglary?
Teams need to look in their own backyard and build themselves up from the inside out...instead of just looking for external scapegoats.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 11:35am
Juventus will reign for another 5 years
on the 23rd March, 2014 at 10:00pm
juve, the queen of burglery..
on the 19th March, 2014 at 5:05pm
Really Yogesh? Yes they lost Cavani & Mazzarri, but look at who came in-coach & players. I still expected a top 3 finish from them & I'm certain that ADL expected the same. I'd say that Rafa is achieving par at the moment. I hope that they don't sign a ridiculous number of players over the summer-just 2-3. Otherwise that, along with Rafa's continual rotation will lead to more disjointed performances: & they cannot allow this to happen given Juve's supreme consistency (in Serie A).
on the 16th March, 2014 at 9:11am
I have to go against the grain here. Napoli don't need to be more like juventus. They need to be better. Even though I support juventus, we need competition. I said serie a is not competitive. I was criticised for it. A few months later fabio Capello comes out and says pretty much what I said.

If juventus do not get some competition soon they will naturally become complacent, and get thrashed even more in the champions league. I do think however Napoli out of all teams r trying to catch juve.
on the 15th March, 2014 at 6:51pm
noone in the world gave Napoli a chance of even a top 5 finish after Mazzarri & Cavani leaving, in that sense, Napoli have outperformed.
Napoli have 12 new players, a new coach & a new playing system this year & are obviously more complete & Europe-ready than at anytime during Mazzarri's era, a big step forward in right direction.
a young team, proven coach, ambitious owner & balanced books, whole Italia can be proud of such a club coming thru in these difficult times.
on the 15th March, 2014 at 5:13pm
I think Conte has done a fantastic job in the beginning of his Juventus spell. Looking at his recent moves, I think he simply sucks. He didn't rest any players in the last two seasons before big CL matches, and now he rests players in Europa league to fight for the title(14 points ahead of Roma)! In the last two seasons anyone would have won the title with this team, but only a rare coach would manage to go out of the Champion's league with 4 points.
on the 15th March, 2014 at 2:21pm
I still think that Napoli are a team of good individuals, rather than being a good team. In both games against Swansea, the Welsh side were the better team in open play, controlling the ball much better. Napoli are doing well, given the huge number of signings this season. The center of midfield needs to be looked at. Not having Jorginho in their EL squad could prove very costly. I hope that Maggio makes a swift recovery.
on the 15th March, 2014 at 2:10pm
A big thank you to the referee's again this year...oh wait Rube have already done it. Between Napoli and Roma for the "real" Scudetto, it's going to be a very intriguing end to the season.
on the 15th March, 2014 at 1:47pm
Either Serie A build new stadiums or die
on the 15th March, 2014 at 12:20pm
Can't see Juve losing this one so it's 3 in a row. Conte has done an unbelievable job. Some great players in there but ultimately they're a team. I think regardless of the outcome Roma fans must be delighted. They're heading in the right direction again. Napoli have done well re-investing the Cavani money. Hopefully Roma and Napoli can further improve and challenge Juve next season. As long as Conte is there it's going to be very difficult to stop them extending their lead in the Scudetti.
on the 15th March, 2014 at 12:12pm

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