Wednesday August 16 2017
Napoli are already winners

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli have won over the world’s fans and for Billy Wilkinson that is in itself a trophy worth relishing.

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.

Have your say...
@Anonymoue & Beppe Rossi,
I wonder why do Juventini like you, concern themselves so much by spending most of their time patronisingly criticising Napoli, on a Napooli supporters forum?
on the 22nd August, 2017 at 1:20pm
Let them play in peace. That is this Sarri's approach and to be honest, its a good one.
on the 21st August, 2017 at 12:23am
Nice football to watch, sure. Total football?, not even close. That is Napoli's Achilles heel. You'd rather worry about entertaining,but that always comes back to bite them like it did in the CL. You forget how to defend, and do so as a unit.
on the 17th August, 2017 at 3:32pm
Sarri, Hamsik, Reina, and to a lesser extent Mertens, Callejon and Insigne are such likeable men (despite Sarri's mistake last season) that I can support Napoli despite their reprehensible owner. The day those personalities are no longer with the side is the day AdL and his greed towards the comune can go to hell.
on the 16th August, 2017 at 4:00pm
If Milan don't win the Scudetto then i'll be rooting for Napoli to. Always love watching them play and have grea respect for Hamsik especially.

@Maldini's Heir some good points esp the one about Zapata and Paletta. But, cmon a lot of our squad needed changing. I agree consistency is key in football but we now have a squad which could be kept together for a few years and would have the potential to become a top side, which was untrue of the calibre of last seasons team.
on the 16th August, 2017 at 3:13pm
Sure, Napoli plays the best football in Italy. No doubt.

But we've been hearing this tune for quite some time now. I can't help but assume this is one reason why they finished 3rd.

"Hey what you want from us.. at least we play the most beautiful football"
on the 16th August, 2017 at 3:10pm
Whis the surplus of MFs, why is Napoli interested in Denis Suarez then?
on the 16th August, 2017 at 1:20pm
Anyone who thinks Napoli will win the Scudetto this season doesn't understand that to win championships putting the ball in the other team's net is only useful if you also keep it out of your own. Defense has been Napoli's Achilles heel for years and considering the amount they spent on improving defense this summer ($0) there's no reason for that to change.
on the 16th August, 2017 at 1:13pm
I believe player needs more or less one year to get back the fit & form of before this kind of knee injury (remember the years there was no return to football pitch after CRL), so I expect Arek to be deadly forward starting October 2017.
on the 16th August, 2017 at 12:35pm
Sounds good in theory. However, when tens of millions depend on winning or not, the situation changes. Additionally, there is so much hatred towards Juve, that Juve simply cannot afford to lose. If they lost (which will inevitably happen one day), they will have to deal with the worst part of Italian overdramatic-opera-smearing-mocking culture, so the prospect of this means only one: "Winning is the only thing that matters." If culture was different, we could tolerate not winning. Not now.
on the 16th August, 2017 at 10:28am
(Paletta and Kucka) played 32 and 33 games. The rest played under 30. It shows that Montella never knew what his starting line up was. How do you go from playing Paletta in 32 matches and Zapata in just 16 to deciding that you'll sell the former and keep the latter? There's no logic. There's no consistency. It's all just randomly made up on a whim (ok using detailed statistical analysis). But the fact is stats don't win matches. Teams do (and yes that comment is meant to be ironic).
on the 16th August, 2017 at 10:11am
Just look at the contrast between Sarri and Montella's approaches to picking starting line ups last season. For Napoli in 50 games last season Reina, Hysaj, Hamsik, Zieliński, Insigne, Callejón and Mertens (7 players) all played over 45 games. So they were involved in 45/50 games last season. Now that's a base. In stark contrast at Milan only Donnarumma and Suso played the equivalent number of games (41 and 37 respectively out of 41). Hilariously two players now deemed surplus to requirements
on the 16th August, 2017 at 10:07am
bank they didn't change 50% of their staff every 6 months. I do wonder if there's many football managers who would do well in the real world without a "transfer window" every 6 months with which they can completely change their staff around. If Napoli do well then it will send a message to the rest of the teams to focus on the players they have rather than constantly changing their teams in the hope of finding the "magic formula".
on the 16th August, 2017 at 9:47am
wonder Milan finished below Atalanta. No apparently to make Milan competitive we had to sign 12 new players at a cost of over 200m (and I presume we have money left over for a stadium - we do don't we?). Sarri sees the benefit of keeping sides together and of playing consistent line ups. The result is a tight unit that is a goal scoring machine. Players move the ball quickly because they know each other. Part of this must come from his experience in the real world. I'm sure when he worked in the
on the 16th August, 2017 at 9:37am
I've huge amount of respect for Napoli and for Sarri. If Milan don't win the league (and I don't think they will given they've changed 50% of their team) then I would want Napoli to be champions. Sarri doesn't make excuses. “My job is to improve the players at my disposal. It’s not my job to ask for players worth €100m each, because that would be too easy. It’s not my job.” I wish Montella would take a leaf out of his book. Given how low Montella's expectations must have been last season it's no
on the 16th August, 2017 at 9:33am
History will not remember them for playing good football. History remembers winners. That simple unfortunately.
on the 16th August, 2017 at 8:57am
Nice way of looking at it. I agree, that although trophies are what teams strive for, and are deserved when won, entertaining the public and earning love and respect are truly priceless.

Napoli can say they have achieved that, whereas teams like Juve and Man Utd, cannot. However, winning a league title playing this way would be the ultimate.

Well done Napoli, ADL and especially Sarri. Tie him to a 10 year contract!
on the 16th August, 2017 at 7:24am
I think milik is a problem he can be a negative to the fluidity of this team. They need a backup striker that can fit into this system and he is not it.
on the 16th August, 2017 at 3:46am
I think the biggest hurdle for them will be Milik, how does he fit in and will he be a crutch on the teams fluidity. They need a backup forward that's supports this system and he isn't it. Forza Napoli
on the 16th August, 2017 at 3:44am

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