Tuesday January 29 2019
Napoli quantity doesn't mean quality

Napoli have a plethora of attacking options at their disposal, however quantity doesn’t always equal quality, writes Massimo Nuzzo.

Milan and Napoli face off for the second time in a week today, the only difference being that this contest between the two clubs is in the Coppa Italia. The 0-0 draw in Serie A had opportunities, but neither side was able to execute in the final third.

When you think about the strongest attacking cores in Serie A, Napoli always comes up in in the conversation. Home to the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, and Arkadiusz Milik, you wouldn’t think Carlo Ancelotti would have trouble getting goals out of his men, but that seems to be the case for some of his attacking options.

When we saw Ancelotti had chosen to start Insigne, Mertens, Milik and Jose Callejon together, plus Piotr Zielinski in midfield and the more attack-minded Kevin Malcuit at full-back, the assumption was they’d overwhelm the Rossoneri defence. Instead, they seemed crowded and confused, with massive gaps opening up between the lines as forwards tried to occupy the same cramped spaces. It seems three tenors is the perfect fit, but four is overdoing it.

Insigne was the most visibly struggling Napoli man and he seemed like a shadow of the player we saw at the beginning of the season. Throughout the match, Insigne was unable to capitalise on any of the chances he was given. Whether it was delivering the final pass or shot, things just weren’t happening for Lorenzo ‘Il Magnifico’.

Insigne finds himself in the midst of a scoring drought that stretches back to the beginning of November 2018, and his struggles have impacted the overall play of his side. Returning him to a wider role in a 4-3-3, or even a 4-4-2 against Milan, made him even less effective, not in good enough shape to handle the added defensive duties and work-rate.

There is, however, a bright light in the Napoli attack that has shown itself recently. Arkadiusz Milik has enjoyed a much-needed scoring run as of late, one that ground to a halt against Milan. The Poland international is a striker that is at his best when those around him are on form.

When playing with Mertens up top, he often relies on his Belgian teammate to act as the connection between the midfield and frontline. Although we’ve seen improvement in his link up play, Milik still isn’t the greatest when it comes to being a node between himself and those servicing him.

Napoli’s struggle in the final third was a clear case of choosing quantity over quality. By going with more strikers within a single match, you try to involve too many play styles and it doesn’t allow for any sort of consistency up front. It also leaves the team terribly unbalanced and, as we saw against Milan, open to devastating counter-attacks.

Going forward, choosing to focus on quality over quantity can rejuvenate Napoli’s attack.

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Have your say...
@Simius, those numbers look terrific, but they don't tell the big picture. How many trophies have Napoli won in the last 4 years? How many times have they choked (& looked impotent) in the big games? How many times have they dominated games, only to create very little, & get done on the counter? There have been so many occasions this season where I see the same failings over & over again, the same failings. The 0-0 & defeat to Milan encapsulates my points.
on the 1st February, 2019 at 1:03pm
Quagliarella - 16 goals
Zapata - 15 goals
PiÄ…tek - 13 goals
Milik - 11 goals
Immobile - 11 goals
Icardi - 9 goals
Higuain - 6 goals
Dzeko - 4 goals
on the 31st January, 2019 at 5:34pm
Ancelotti rests on his laurels. He has his relaxed comfortable way and needs star players to get those decisive goals in a game , if not he will always a a conciliational good meal after what ever the result. Napoli need to cut off his carbohydrate supply so he is hungrier to win.
on the 30th January, 2019 at 8:06am
also the key to Ancelotti's great Milan team build around the midfield combo of Pirlo-Gattuso-Seedorf-Kaka. 10 years on and I can still name that midfield four. Because they started nearly every game. The older Ancelotti rotates his players and it has taken the edge off this Napoli team. There simply isn't a team that can compete with Juve right now in Serie A. It's depressing. (Except for Milan's great win tonight!)
on the 30th January, 2019 at 1:33am
The great thing about Sarri was that he showed Serie A that it's not necessary to rotate every single week. Barcelona don't rotate. Messi's played an average of 47 games per season for the past 15 seasons. Sure teams can rest players here and there but we shouldn't be seeing constant rotation. There needs to be a guaranteed starting 11 that, barring injury, plays 30 plus games a season. That is the only way to get a team playing like a tight unit. That was the secret to the Barca machine. It was
on the 30th January, 2019 at 1:27am

Icardi, Immobile, Higuain, Piatek, Quagliarella, Zapata are far superior to Milik. So is Dzeko.

It was always going to go downhill after Sarri left. Ancelotti talks big but season has long been over.
on the 30th January, 2019 at 12:43am
@Napoli Please name one today's top forward of your choice in Serie A (besides CR7).
Give numbers, i.e. three league seasons with 20+ goals each on top of 20+ goals for national team respectively.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 5:48pm
77 goals (3rd in league) 94 goals (most in league)80 goals (most in league. That is Napolis goal tally under El Commndante(Sarri). So what you say Dan bears not even an ounce of truth about predicability. Napolis problem last seasons has been the defensive phase. Please if you have an argument at least base it on facts. About this article, that is the weakness of Carletto (and other coaches of that generation. They are not the the once to modify the details but instead overall balance.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 3:40pm
It look there are no truly attacking wingers in a team right now. Wingers in Napoli seem to have same defensive as offensive load. Milik needs crosses into the box for his strong headers' game. I hope Ancelotti sorts things out soon, but it's too late for the Scudetto this season.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 1:22pm
Napoli lacks a top forward.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 1:20pm
Napoli under both Sarri & Ancelotti play great football up to the final third, but once they get there they are often very predictable & very wasteful. They also have too many players that are similar in that they are technical, but small, not particularly quick & strong, or direct. They could with a wide player that offers them a more direct threat and a player that excels at getting crosses into the box.
on the 29th January, 2019 at 11:49am

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