Wednesday September 13 2017
Spanner in the works for Sarri

Maurizio Sarri's tactics are instantly recognisable, but that can also make them predictable, warns Susy Campanale.

Perhaps this is final proof that ‘Sarrismo’ has truly landed. When a tactical approach becomes so instantly recognisable, it is also inevitably predictable and that is where the trouble starts. Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli play in such a precise way that we can all see their goals coming, above all the long passes to the back post for Jose Callejon or Lorenzo Insigne cutting inside to curl towards the far top corner with his right foot. Dries Mertens is more of a wild card, but when Arkadiusz Milik is the centre-forward, they become too static. Add in a sluggish attitude that sees the Partenopei pass the ball around too slowly, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Shakhtar Donetsk Coach Paulo Fonseca deserves credit for cutting off Napoli’s passing channels, pressing them high and being far more aggressive on the night. He’s clearly not the only one who is figuring out how to throw a spanner in Sarri’s works, because this season alone we’ve already seen Atalanta and even Bologna cause them huge problems. Only once the Azzurri took the lead did they then ride that wave of enthusiasm to victory in Serie A.

I wrote at the weekend that Napoli were finally learning to ‘win ugly’ – but the showing at Shakhtar Donetsk proves they have a very long way to go on that score. This is a side that can fluke it a couple of times, but ultimately their path to results has to be via beautiful football and that doesn’t come easy. Their movements are becoming automatic, but that’s both a good and a bad thing. They pass to the space where they know a teammate will run into. The opposition can at the same time mark the exact same spot, safe in the knowledge the pattern will be followed.

With every tactical innovation, there is a surge of success, followed by the inevitable brick wall when the other Coaches figure out your game plan. Sarri has shown he can light up Serie A and Europe with his style of free-flowing, attacking, passing play, but now he has to make the clockwork movements strong enough to grind through a couple of spanners too.

Speed is of the essence here. If Napoli move the ball quickly enough, they are very difficult to stop, even if their passing channels are predictable. They have a way of swarming forward that tears opposition defences apart, but only if the other side are not given time to scramble back into position. Sarri and his men have got to get used to being treated like a big club both in Italy and on the continent.

As for those criticising Sarri for starting Milik rather than Mertens, they do have a point. If the little Belgian was to be rested, it should’ve been against bottom of the table Benevento rather than in the Champions League. I imagine there was at least an element of superstition in his decision: Milik bagged a brace in Ukraine a year ago to the day, beating Dynamo Kiev 2-1 in Napoli’s Euro opener. At least that is one thing Sarri will never be criticised for in Naples, the world’s most superstitious city.

Have your say...
@FERBAN - Must u remind you that in Italy Juve has played more big games the last 3 years than all of Serie A has played in the last 6 years! And as far as Napoli goes, their soccer doesn't succeed in Europe because playing the same high tempo soccer without rotating the squad in Europe means that will be out of gas come the 70th minute and their game is the same cuz Sarri has no idea how to change and Shaktar was a perfect example of that. Allegri knows how to switch formation tactics & players
on the 18th September, 2017 at 2:05am
As long as Insigne stays, Napoli would always be unbalanced, playing useless time wasting and agonizingly slow "tic-tac" stupid passes on the left flank, and will never win anything.
Sarri has taken him off today for the first time only because he was 5 -0 up against a newly promoted weak team. He should have had the guts to take him off against shakhtar, he was pathetic, and extra man given to the opposition.
on the 17th September, 2017 at 4:33pm
You should take a look at your own coach before commenting about others and wonder why your team has mental breakdowns and lack the desire and passion to push it in the big games.
on the 17th September, 2017 at 4:30pm

You're complaining about people putting down the EPL and saying how do we think they'd do against Italian sides.

Maybe you should study that before commenting. The head-2-head between the two is pretty one-sided in Italy's favour over the last 6 or 7 years.

I take it you wrote your comment before selling Atalanta (who had several players out too) smacked giant-spending Everton.
on the 15th September, 2017 at 9:59am
Until Napoli fires Sarri and re-hires Benitez this team will not go anywhere in CL. The core of this team was built by Benitez and it's designed for a 4-2-3-1 and that's the only way you can get Insigne-Callejon-Milik-Mertens playing at the same time. Benitez knows talent unlike sarri who asks for players like Valdifiori, or Tonelli or Mario Rui.....mediocre at best and Benitez knows how to do something that Sarri doesn't know how to do....ROTATE THE SQUAD! Sarri burns his player into the ground
on the 14th September, 2017 at 9:30pm
CG, you're in danger of becoming a human bidet. Be sure to give your teeth and tongue a good brush tonight, followed by a good rinsing. It may take several attempts, but hopefully you will purge that sycophantic debris.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 9:15pm
I hope the top 4 this season (in no particular order) are Juve, Inter, Milan, and Atalanta :=) I mean Atalanta just showed they're a better representative of Serie A than Napoli and Roma combined.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 8:57pm
As for ppl putting down the premier league. Just imagine Chelsea, Man U, arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham versus Juve, Milan, Inter, Roma, Napoli, florentina lol. Who would you genuinely bet your house on to do better in head to heads? It's not because of money it's just the energy they have and fitness. Juve are italys best team and after 20 mins against Madrid they ran out of energy. That's pathetic and that won't win you tournaments against fitter and more athletic teams.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 8:56pm
Yes Napoli is garbage in CL. They're group stage failure or RO16 fodder for other teams. Just because they've managed to make the CL for 7 consecutive seasons means nothing in terms of whether they're good or not in the actual competition. They just happen to finish 2nd or 3rd in Serie A because Inter and Milan got screwed by FFP. Same with Roma, they always managed to lose at least one CL game by 6 or 7 goals every season. Utter garbage.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 8:54pm

Don't blame economics. Economics do make a difference I admit but team work and psychology is just as good. Dortmund and athletico aren't big spenders but progress well in the champs league in recent times. Juve do spend a lot like Higuain but they still suck because they lack the mental strength. Milan are needed in Europe. Juve dominate domestically. Milan needs to be revived. Apart from Juve and Milan, every other Italian team seriously sucks including Napoli.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 8:53pm
And BOSS, you are great, too! Love your comments!!! Keep them coming! Intelligent human being. Stuff these trendy Napoli fans....they wouldn't recognise a trophy if it came up and bit them in the butt....!!!
on the 14th September, 2017 at 7:19pm
I LOVE Anonymous......!!! Come to my arms...!! A person after my own heart....!! Yes, BAN Roma and Napoli!!! They do nothing but embarrass Italy. Napoli go back t making pizza all day long. Roma, stick to your ruins, that's all you're good for.... Juve, Milan and Inter must feature in Champ League. Until that happens, serie A is doomed....
on the 14th September, 2017 at 7:17pm
everyone seems to be only a critic but never praises napoli. Reina this Milik that. sarri should have done this... Common guys
on the 14th September, 2017 at 6:48pm
Ferban... Napoli lost one game in the past 17 outings and now they are in trouble? lol give me a break
on the 14th September, 2017 at 6:46pm
napoli are garbage in the the CL?? what the hell am i reading here?? Napoli have succeeded to stay in CL for 7 Consecutive years. Napoli gave Real Madrid (the eventual winners) a very difficult time. Some of you guys really should consider watching a different sport.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 6:44pm
dami..... i agree with you 100%. Serie a isnt the best league, or what it was in the 90s/early 2000's but common in the BPL some of these guys cant even do a corner kick..BPL is just pace pace pace
on the 14th September, 2017 at 6:42pm
BOSS.... Napoli play great futbol on a world scale. What separates the big four from napoli is basically individual talent. napoli have been on a winning streak but no one seems to praise them for that. 1 loss in a group stage away is enough to completely tear a team apart. Serie a isnt what it used to be, but its a true socio-economic translation from country to sport whereas all other league's top teams are backed by foreigners. BPL has been poor in europe in recent years
on the 14th September, 2017 at 6:39pm
In fairness to Juve, even though they suck this season, they have been carrying Italy for years. The fact Napoli and Roma are considered June's rivals is an embarrassment. Back in the days it was Milan and Inter up there. They've regressed so much that's is now fallen to the next group of crap teams which just happens to be Napoli and Roma.

Italian football is a sissy league with no strength and no pace. look at Juve submitting to Madrid in the final. It's like submission is the mentality.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 5:57pm
It's hilarious that people on this site are actually dense enough to buy into the silly beliefs that Napoli play great footy and Italian football is strong. Italian footy has sucked since 2003. Every now and then a Milan or Juve appear to carry Italy but apart from that the other teams suck. Napoli look good in a rubbish league be honest. Juve love being dominated by Spaniards. Milan and Inter are a joke.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 5:53pm
German sides did just as poorly bar Munich but I don't hear anyone calling the Bundesliga dead. 2 of the Italian sides faced Spanish sides which are dominant right now. Yes 4/5 PL sides won but only Tottenham faced a half decent opponent. Bar Napoli's result I dont see what anyone's complaining about.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 4:41pm
Here we go again, losing at the Camp Nou isn't a big deal, Roma picked up a point no one expected, Napoli's result was a shock but they still have 5 games to fix it, but everybody wants to criticize Serie A and call it a dead league already. Its UCL gameweek 1, Italians notoriously are slow starters. Lets wait till GW 4/5 before we even start coming to conclusions. Juve will be fine, Napoli can beat City and Roma have given themselves a chance.

Typical calcio fans overreacting after 1 loss.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 4:37pm
Milan and Inter had to find new owners to be able to spend again, so yes, FFP really affected them for about 7 years.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 4:34pm
As usual, Napoli is garbage in CL. I wish garbage like Napoli and Roma would be permanently banned from CL and their spots permanently given to Milan and Inter. They with Juve are the only Italian clubs worthy of the CL.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 4:32pm
@ Hypocrisy - Yes, you're right. FFP has really hamstrung Milan's transfers this summer...
on the 14th September, 2017 at 4:15pm
Napoli amassed 86 points last season. Only 5 points less than Juventus. The very top teams reinforce and refresh, when at their best. Capitalise on success, and not add when struggling. Adding when struggling encourages poor, rushed and gamble purchases. Napoli did no business in the summer. Stuck with the same side, which can only encourage players settling and quite frankly being too comfy. None of their starters have any challenge from the bench. No competition = settling.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 11:49am
As I have stated on this forum many times previously, these results and the weakening of the Italian NT are the fruit of corrupt Platini's Farcical Fair Play which, lets be honest only hamstrung the Milan clubs, it didnt really effect other clubs in Europe. Well this is the result of it.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 10:50am
It was a tough opening week for Serie A, given they played 2 of the favourites and had another tricky away tie.

But one thing is for sure: all three must pick up a win in the next round.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 9:53am
Napoli are in trouble now, and the failure to land a top keeper and CB showed last night.

Now they will need probably 9 points from their next 4 games, and hope they upstage Shakhtar on the head-2-head. Because there's a chance it will come down to that now.

If Napoli lose twice to MC, then it'll probably be the EL for them.
on the 14th September, 2017 at 9:51am
Sarri's style & tactics have been predictable ever since I watched his Empoli side, but even so, they have been been mostly effective. For me, what will scupper Napoli's chances are: Reina's growing list of errors; the inability of the side to cut out crosses, defend corners & maximize their own corners; the sluggish starts & not passing the ball quick enough at times; the profligacy in attack; no effective plan b; & Sarri's strange decisions - why didn't Jorginho & Mertens start??
on the 14th September, 2017 at 9:27am
Yet another defeat in Europe......but DON'T WORRY......! at least Napoli plays "BEAUTIFUL SOCCER"........... What a crock....hopefully people finally see Napoli for what they truly are.....a provincial team, who does not belong in the Champions League.... Beautiful soccer, my.....
on the 14th September, 2017 at 8:17am

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