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Wednesday January 24 2018
Not the usual Napoli

They learned to win ugly, have the best defence in Serie A and beat their bogey team Atalanta home and away. Ramez Nathan sees a whole new Napoli.

Atalanta did the double over Napoli last season. They knocked them out of the Coppa Italia earlier this month. A trip to Bergamo was the classic fixture where the Partenopei would usually drop points. Beating La Dea home and away is a further sign that this is not the usual Napoli.

Last Sunday, Atalanta were hoping to play the role of spoilers, as they slowed down the game, turning it into a physical battle. However, two moments decided the match. A shrewd pass from Jose Callejon set Dries Mertens free to rifle in to the target for the home side, while Pepe Reina performed a brilliant save to stop Bryan Cristante from equalizing.

If you think that's the only ugly win Napoli clinched, refresh your memory with Daniele De Rossi's error causing Roma to suffer Lorenzo Insigne's goal, with La Magica hitting the bar twice that night. Or the ball from the spot that won them the Udinese fixture and an unawarded penalty that could have leveled their game with Walter Zenga's Crotone.

For the previous two seasons, Napoli were displaying intoxicatingly addictive football as they casually spread passes and broke lines with relative ease, leaving the three attackers to showcase their tricky dribbling and scintillating performances with either Gonzalo Higuain or Mertens bringing the numbers in style.  

The scenario of leaving the forward trio to carry the club on their shoulders proved to be entertaining, yet fragile. It was something that pushed the mastermind Sarri to switch his fluid style of play to a rigid one, setting his determination on the most prestigious Italian trophy.

The Partenopei broke the mould this season, offering masterclasses in the art of defence, fiercely denying all Serie A opposition the chance to disrupt their wall at the back. Napoli have only conceded 13 goals this season, 11 fewer than at this stage last term, and the best defensive record in the league.

Sarri's boys have barely put a foot wrong this season and if it wasn't for set pieces and penalties, the Azzurri would have allowed only six goals in.

If all the previous words are ringing any bells, you are right, it's a copybook similar to the six-time Scudetto winners in black and white, an implemented winning mentality of "no matter how" it is done.

Sarri rarely rotates his squad, but when he’s out of the Coppa Italia and paying precious little attention to the Europa League, that’s not really going to be an issue.

If Napoli really have learned when to turn on the style and how to win ugly when necessary, then we are looking at genuine Scudetto favourites here.

Have your say...
The problem with Napoli...

Their budget. In the sense of how they spend it- always seems to be about the next striker...(Inglese, Zapata on loan, Milik injured)...a future Reina replacement and a proper backup for Hysaj is just ignored.

Problem 2. Rotation or should I say lack of.

They now have reasonable options elsewhere, should show a bit more faith and flexibility!

Both of these arguably stem back to Sarri, who is otherwise doing an outstanding job. Why no Rui on bench v Man City e.g.?
on the 31st January, 2018 at 2:03pm
There is a very simple way to establish which teams really cheated, and to return to Juventus Scudettos that were darkly robbed from them.
Starting with Oriali falsified passport, to rules chenged in mid-term (Nakata) to the "rice field" shameful farce, orchestrated by Collina, and all the rest.
Culminating with the political coup, so called "Farsopoli".....
This simple way is to argue all the REAL facts in Court.
At the European Court of Justice.
With Juventus defrauded BIG TIME!
on the 31st January, 2018 at 1:00am
@ Pino, the last six championships is an understatement, they have always been cheating, it is engraved in their DNA.
They cheat using all means imaginable, they intimidate, they bribe, and they prevent other clubs from getting good players, so that they can't compete with them, and above all they HATE Napoli, but we don't hate anyone, we just don't like them.
on the 29th January, 2018 at 11:51pm
JUVENTUS!
Bribe after bribe, after bribe...........
For the rivals only tears and despair for our cheating!
WE ARE THE CHEATERS!

Now according to the records we ascertain that the FACTS are as follows:

JUVENTUS HAVE CHEATED TO WIN THE LAST 6 SCUDETTOS

Vergogna!
on the 29th January, 2018 at 5:54pm
JUVENTUS!
Win after win, after win...........
For the rivals only tears and despair!
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
on the 29th January, 2018 at 4:09am
Now according to the records we ascertain that the FACTS are as follows:

JUVENTUS HAVE WON THE LAST 6 SCUDETTOS

Fantastico!
on the 29th January, 2018 at 4:07am
And to our rivals despair, Juventus remains a cheating and bribing machine.........
SHAMEFUL STUFF!
on the 29th January, 2018 at 2:15am
And to our rivals despair, Juventus remains an excellent winning machine.........
GREAT STUFF!
on the 28th January, 2018 at 7:54pm
@carpe You mean it's the usual Juventus - they keep on cheating!
on the 28th January, 2018 at 1:34pm
It's the USUAL Juventus!
They keep on winning..................
on the 28th January, 2018 at 1:04am
It's a long slug from here until the end of Serie ! and with its formidable squad, Juventus must be the favourite to win the Scudetto.
on the 27th January, 2018 at 12:57pm
for everyone that is blaming VAR .. please stop .. VAR was used in the atalanta on BOTH goals so lets all take a step back and get our facts straight before we speak. there were instances throughout the year that no VAR was used on juve but noone is mentioning that .. anyways I dont see napoli keeping this form as a napoli fan. I see them cracking sooner or later and going ona 2 or 3 winless streak and thats gonna ruin it and give it to juve. Unfortunately again.
on the 26th January, 2018 at 8:36pm
LOL The North can go back to Germany, all the real pure blooded Italians live south of the Po. It's been that way since the Roman Empire.
on the 26th January, 2018 at 4:07pm
Hate the north all you want, but no north, no country.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 11:57pm
The key word being WIN.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 11:29pm
Hi. Since you mention the unawarded penalty to Crotone, I think you should also mention that there was an unawarded penalty on Koulibaly exactly in the same match.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 10:48pm
Hey everyone, remember that time Juve had to bribe people to win? Of course you do, it happens every year!
on the 25th January, 2018 at 8:02pm
Khedira is 1st choice now, for better or for worse. Maybe it's his positioning intelligence that gives him the edge, which tbf always was his strength with us, rather than aggressive tackling or creativity like Matuidi+Pjanic.

Marchisio struggles with injuries and fitness issues so he won't be replacing anyone soon, but I agree that we need him back. At his best, our midfield is on a whole new level.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 5:46pm
Not really impressed with khedira juve86 i would like to see marchisio back but i think he has some fitness issues? Correct me if i am wrong. I just dont think sami has it in him for the big matches anymore. Hope he proves me wrong.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 2:12pm
This is just too funny. We have 2 dedicated trolls here: one for Juve and one against. At least they haven't butted heads yet.

2 away matches next and I'm hoping our strikers (and Pjanic+Khedira for all the shots they took last time) start putting them behind the net.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 11:50am
@juliano dont be dumb pls.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 6:50am
If Juve wins the scudetto again it's only because they cheated and bribed someone. Napoli play better, entertain better, and are better. But Juve bought their way to 35 scudetti, so even the best teams in Serie A (and almost all of the current top 5 are better) don't have a chance at the scudetto they deserve more than the Juve ladri unless they stoop to cheating too.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 5:17am
This is a Football Italia article to be debated by all.
Clearly fans can discuss any of the messages on this site.
Hiding behind a nick like "juventini 86" doesn't necessarily mean that the author of the posts is necessarily a supporter of the mythical and legendary Juventus, by far the greatest winners ever in Serie A.
STORMBRINGER!
A Juventino who complains and attacks other Juventini and Juventus "willy nilly"?
I don't think so!
BOTTOM LINE: I strongly back Juventus to win Serie A.
on the 25th January, 2018 at 12:20am
Mertens goal onside and given, Hamsik goal onside and not given...
on the 24th January, 2018 at 11:40pm
This Napoli blog post is full of Juve fans :P
They won against a good team, and if the article is correct that they learned how to play conservative then I might finally consider them Scudetto rivals.

Our last 2 wins will be called scrapes but I saw something else. Right now, it's a matter of clinical finishing because we had plenty of good chances while Genoa especially were quiet on the night.

Elsewhere, had more expectations from Roma but it seems like they are in crisis.
on the 24th January, 2018 at 11:09pm
No mention that the goal vs Atalanta was offside. Yet another occasion where VAR has not been used against them....I wonder the outrage if that was Juve.
on the 24th January, 2018 at 6:43pm
Yes, congrats to Naples, they are doing very well.
So far, so good!
But it's way too early to make any arrogant claims as you never know what's round the corner.
I wouldn't be surprised either if Higuain, Dybala, Bernardeschi, Douglas, Cuadrado and Mandzukic keep on scoring a hatful of goals just for fun.
Plus Mr. Marotta may well add a Top Player to the team.
on the 24th January, 2018 at 5:19pm
Continued.... napoli are only top through single mindedness not organisation, as great as it would be to see a real contender rise and stay but napoli just are not them, the best thing for Italy would be the Milans but even they are a bit embarrassing maybe the tomassi reform could be the starting point???
on the 24th January, 2018 at 3:01pm
Isn't it interesting how fans of other clubs like to put Sarri down and Napoli. VAR does work and Napoli have profited because of it. No handball against Mertens as explained by ref, no offside again by mertens last week again explained but it should have been 2-0 last week as Hamsik's goal was good. No rotation, no January buys etc. We are still top and playing well. Get over it rubentini! The squad is fit and not tired and soon both Milik and Ghoulam will be back too.
on the 24th January, 2018 at 1:14pm
I'm waiting for Arek Milik coming back!
on the 24th January, 2018 at 12:41pm

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