Friday February 23 2018
Napoli all in for the Scudetto

With the Europa League off their back, Napoli have one less problem in their road towards the Scudetto, writes Ramez Nathan.

Napoli went to the Red Bull Arena seeking to win back some pride and a part of their reputation. Once Lorenzo Insigne had added a second goal and they were only behind on away goals, it became clear the Partenopei had done what they set out to do. No need to go overboard by qualifying for the next round.

The most entertaining team in Italy, one that offers masterpieces of scintillating football to compete with the world's best, failed to dazzle against Bundesliga opponents RB Leipzig at the Stadio San Paolo.

Supporters did not show up to the stadium, a number of key players were rested, the best defence in the top flight were stripped of their warriors' spirit and the only goal scored for the Ciucciarelli was by their youngster Adam Ounas in his first ever start for the club.

Things improved massively in the return leg, as goals from Piotr Zielinski and Insigne gave the victory to the away side, but they were not enough to get them through, and for that one man had a huge smile on his face.

President Aurelio De Laurentiis could be the biggest reason behind the club not showing up in the competition, as he previously said during Walter Mazzarri's reign: “The Champions League brings in money, whereas the Europa League costs clubs money. The Europa League should be abolished, as it is of no interest to the media, nor to the fans, seeing as the stadiums are often half-empty."

Apart from the poor broadcast income and the almost empty stadium in the first leg, the prize money Napoli got from facing Leipzig is 12 times less than what they could have earned if they had qualified from the Champions League group stage.

According to the man at the helm Maurizio Sarri, the team cannot fix their heads on anything except Serie A and with the team out of Europa League too, he finds enough time for them to solely train for their main goal.

Napoli were crowned winter champions last January and 10 of the last 11 Campioni d’Inverno went on to win the Scudetto. Who was the only team to miss out? The Partenopei in 2016.

In Sarri's first year acting as the team's Coach, he led Napoli to the top of league and won his Europa League group. Yet it wasn't until February that he realized the quality of his squad when his eight-game winning streak ended, as he suffered for five successive matches dropping points, three of them in the league, and bowing down to Villarreal in Europe.

Former Juventus boss Marcello Lippi said earlier this season that the Europa League games will expose the weary side of Napoli, leading the Bianconeri back on top.

However, it seems Sarri does not make the same mistake twice. The tactician dropped the ball on Europe, as he has set his team's mind on beating the odds to the most prestigious title in Italy.

Serie A is no longer a one-horse race, but Napoli are betting everything on the Scudetto and it’s a very big gamble. If it comes off, they’ll go down in history. If they put all their eggs in this basket and still fail, expect to see this squad dismantled over the summer.

Have your say...
Napoli is a cauldron of passion, so the pressure on De La, Sarri the Moaner and their squad will reach boiling point soon.

Already they have been uncerimoniously thrown out from the CL, the EL, the Coppa Italia, so they are left with very little to play for.

Especially with Italian giants Juventus on their path.
on the 25th February, 2018 at 8:20am
I want the best team to win the scudetto this year. that said tho as somewhat neutral I wanted Napoli and/or Roma to win league last 3 years,cuz I was tired of Juve....But they each slipped up when they had their chance to stay at top. Now Napoli has been tipped to finally knock Juve off pedestal and are barely hanging on...even after being ousted from Champions,Europa,and coppa Italia. They claim to be “only” focused on league. While Juve like true champs are playing for 3 trophies.
on the 24th February, 2018 at 9:30pm
To Vikky and fake Juventus fans:

I can feel Juventus humiliate your team too many times. LOL

on the 24th February, 2018 at 5:55pm
@anon yep thats usually the case here. Its just whine and cry and then whine and cry some more. Over and over and over hahahahahah
on the 24th February, 2018 at 3:48pm
@me so what if he is talking about the past. The milan fans do it all the time hahahahahahhah!!!!! Haaaaaaaa
on the 24th February, 2018 at 3:44pm
@vicky yeah yeah europa hahahaha milan so great they win one trophy every 10 yrs . If so much
on the 24th February, 2018 at 3:39pm
viktor with you being psychic and all. Can you see all your dreams falling apart in the next month? Milan 3 titles in 11 years with 2 of those Supercoppa... LOL

on the 24th February, 2018 at 3:17pm
Keep on talking losers. All you guys do all year long is bitch like a bunch of girls, and it's not going to stop anytime soon seeing as your clubs suck big time. Forza Juve
on the 24th February, 2018 at 12:35pm

Yes and Spurs will destroy you in the next leg, just like they pretty much did away.

was it 75 or 70% possesion?

on the 24th February, 2018 at 9:21am
@ all genuine and real Juventus fans

At this stage would you confirm, and pay the remaining 40mil pounds to Bayern Munich, DOUGLAS COSTA?


If feasable, would you sell Rugani for 30, 35 or 40mil?

Would you, if possible, sign De Vrij on a free?
on the 24th February, 2018 at 2:33am
@Juve4Ever I am an idiot? You are sticking ur nose to statistics and the past, not the reality that our team plays badly NOW. This is typical hysteric Juve fan that I've been dealing with in my daily basis. My advice to you: wake up. Real and sane Juve fan should admit that there's is no chance to win at Wembley WITH OUR LEVEL OF RECENT PERFORMANCE, STATS WON'T SAVE US. What to expect from a team that screwed up 2-0 lead AT HOME?
on the 24th February, 2018 at 2:28am

Juventus are much, much better rated in the CL than any other Italian side!

Juve are CREDIBLE contenders.

Put this in your pipe and smoke it!
on the 24th February, 2018 at 12:51am
Napoli's team will get dismantled in the summer if they don't win the league.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 9:27pm
I respected Sarri and his team before they decided they weren't good enough to compete in Europe. They deserve to loose the Scudetto now. A winning mentality never looses for the sake of anything. If they had taken all 3 competitions seriously, as they claim they didn't, they at least had a good chance at winning 1 of them. Now they risk loosing everything and will be crowned the biggest losers of Italian Football, rightfully so. No business being at the top with this attitude. Disgrace.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 8:29pm
Napoli had revenues around €310m in 2016/17 Boosted by €65m in CL, and €100m from transfers an increase of 100% from the previous year with a total of €155m in 2015/16. Napoli lost out on most of the CL cash this season, and don't have another Higuain so sell so they will probably regress back to around €200m in revenues.

Juventus revenues 2016/17 €550m
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 6:23pm
@me, you’re an idiot
Yes Juve have failed the most in the CL finals but the fact that they have payed in 9 CL finals 4th most finals appearance in Europe after only Real Madrid (15), Milan (11) and Bayern Munchen (10). That just shows how strong a club they are constantly getting to the big games or atleast the semi or quarter finals roundcantsqy the samefor no other Italian club but Milan and Juve will defeat Spurs.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 5:28pm

Juve WILL get trashed by Spurs. This is Juve fan since '90 speaking.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 4:32pm
Napoli are one of the few teams in Europe who are in no debt? Admittedly, we struggle to entice players in signing for Napoli due to wages and image rights. But as a business Napoli is very strong and efficient.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 3:29pm

We'll just have to wait and see what happens!

IF we play true to form............
Or IF we don't................
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 2:00pm
Napoli have put more pressure and higher expectations on themselves now.

Interesting to see how it all unfolds.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 1:34pm
Napoli showed what they CAN do in Europe if they want too....Unfortunately, they only want to win the Scudetto and nothing else, which IMO, reeks of a "small club" mentality! IF, they do not win the league(I personally believe Juve will come back and win it), what next??? What do the players who made the "Scudetto pack" do? What does ADL? What does Sarri do? Also,if they win it, how do they look to launch in Europe next season OR, would they rather go back to back in the league...ALL OR NOTHING!
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 1:31pm
@Romalat The thing tho is even if Napoli win the league this season Juventus will still be a bigger, and better club. Winning the scudetto will not change that. Financially Napoli can't compete, and with them also losing out in the grp stage of Champions League they are going to regress in terms of finances in 2018.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 12:22pm
..and then if Juve get knocked out of the CL by Tottenham?
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 12:14pm
Weaker teams get knocked out of competitions as a general rule.
Sometimes you go out because of circumstances completely out of your control.

But the name of the game remains TO WIN as that is exactly what calcio is all about.

Pansy excuses are not here, nor there, if you are good enough you win, unless impeded by bad luck or decisions that go against you unfairly.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 11:46am
@Me, Totally agree, I hope we (Roma) do also. Our 2nd half performance against Shakhtar was beyond pathetic. I was very angry, believe me. We should be able to win it in Rome as Shakhtar are bad away from home.

Italian football as you said really does have to look beyond the Scudetto and not see European matches, especially the Europa League as a crutch.

I also think Napoli won't win the league, I still think Juventus will. I hope I am wrong, I really do. We need a change at the helm.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 11:25am
It’s clear they’ve sacked everything for the league, but I feel the EL was a great opportunity missed. They have s good squad, get 3 days between games, and when you’re winning no one feels tired; only energized and motivated. Sarri has been poor here. I’d like to hear what ADL thinks.
Still, Napoli have 0 excuse now; they’ll be 100% in each game and that’s a fact. Juve are now in a proper race for the crown.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 5:56am
It's sad to see Italians still struggle in Europe this season. Perhaps they should start thinking seriously about other competition than just Scudetto. I especially have high hope for Lazio, Roma, Napoli, Milan and Atalanta. Juve will be eliminated by Spurs, I never have too much expectation about them in Europe. Let's hope Milan, Lazio and hopefully Roma will somehow go further.
on the 23rd February, 2018 at 3:03am

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