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Monday May 20 2019
New Napoli ready at last

If the 4-1 triumph over Inter was a sign of things to come, Kaustubh Pandey believes Napoli fans should get ready for take-off.

Carlo Ancelotti called the 4-1 demolition of Inter “a demonstration of what Napoli could be next season.” After a year of tinkering, tweaking and development, the Partenopei prototype might finally be ready to launch.

It is tough to place this season in a ‘success’ or ‘failure’ bracket for Napoli. They did get knocked out of the Europa League in the quarter-finals at the hands of Arsenal, but will finish second in the league.

The inability to go far in Europe might lead many to call it a ‘failure’ because the very purpose of having Ancelotti is to start winning on the European stage. But a lot has changed at the Stadio San Paolo ever since Don Carlo stepped in, taking over the reins from Maurizio Sarri.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that Napoli still have the highest amount of average possession in the league. They have had 57 percent of average possession this season, not far off last year’s heights of 60 per cent. But Ancelotti has tried to add his own trademark flavour to a side that likes to play possession football.

It isn’t the Sarri style 4-3-3 anymore. The 4-4-2 shape sees the left-sided midfielder in usually Piotr Zielinski play through the middle more often than playing wide, allowing Mario Rui to make attacking runs forward down the flank.

Lorenzo Insigne has had to play as a forward far more often than last season. Under Sarri, the Italian did cut inside too often for that predictable right-foot curler, but under Ancelotti, Insigne stays inside. After having impressed in that position early on, scoring six times in the first eight games, Insigne has fallen prey to constant injuries that have taken the consistency away. Despite that, he has already bettered his tally from last season.

Sarri did try to experiment by playing Insigne as a trequarista for a brief period early on in his reign, but it didn’t work out too well. It made him play deeper than where he should be. But playing as a second striker, Insigne is closer to goal and is being made to use his best qualities in central area.

Even with a more patient approach under Ancelotti, the Partenopei have registered the most shots on goal, again matching their approach from last season. Sarri’s Napoli picked up 91 points and nearly snatched the title away from Juventus, but it was a lack of Plan B that cost them vital points and the tactician has found the same issue at Chelsea.

Ancelotti’s Napoli know when to go long and when to switch to a normal 4-3-3 mid-game. They can adapt to situations better than they did last season and free themselves of Sarri’s often dogmatic approach to tactics.

They don’t press as much, and when they do, the pressing is more man to man than the zonal approach that Sarri or Arrigo Sacchi favour. When not pressing, Napoli play narrow and force the opposition wide.

It was after the 3-0 defeat to Sampdoria that Ancelotti changed to 4-4-2 and definitively moved on from his predecessor. It isn’t as effective and penetrative as ‘Sarriball’ used to be, but you can clearly see the plan he has in mind for where this team will go. There are uncertainties about the futures of players like Allan, Kalidou Koulibaly and Insigne himself, but there is clear set-up in place for the club to go forward.

Ancelottiis looking at players that could possibly improve the side, with Hirving Lozano one of them. And the Mexican will be an instant upgrade on Jose Callejon. He will bring bundles of pace on that flank and even more so if Kieran Trippier is roped in. Bringing in players like these will add an extra dimension to a team that has the second lowest attacking ability/tendency from the right in Serie A after Lazio.

It’s certainly not the perfect team yet, but Ancelotti has laid the foundations and the crushing 4-1 victory over Inter was a sign of things to come. His know-how of approaching games will go a long way in maturing this team into Scudetto challengers. Now De Laurentiis has to give him what he needs to take Napoli to the next level.

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Have your say...
If James Rodríguez comes to Napoli (thanks to relations with Ancelotti, if ADL does'n screw it as usual with big mouth), which position wille he play on the field?
on the 2nd June, 2019 at 7:13pm
@primocalcio ...cuz Carlo has gotten very lazy or should I say lazier in recent years. 3/4 of his winning records and trophies were from already established all star teams. He inherited fortunes. PSG,Real,Bayern. Only truly worked for Parma Juve Milan. That’s why he wouldn’t take Azzurri job/mess. Now with Napoli he thought he was inheriting another winner after the work Sarri left...but found Serie A has changed.
You can tell by look on his face,wished he waited 1 more season b4 returning
on the 21st May, 2019 at 8:15pm
@Babbata-Boopity
Carlo is secretly envious of the Juve job? Lol. And you know his inner feelings how? The guy who's won more in Europe during his managerial career alone than Juve in their entire history? Ok.
on the 21st May, 2019 at 6:35pm
I have seen games were 17-18 shots fired and only 5-6 on target and 1 goal made. These are really poor conversion rates for and it results in draws and losses.
on the 21st May, 2019 at 1:06pm
As an avid Napoli fan I can say that statistically Ancelotti' first season with Napoli has faired better than Sarri' first season. However that being said, I was hoping for a greater consistency and more identity in respect to the kind of football we are looking to display. I believe a reshuffling of players and for the Sporting Director to provide players suitable for Ancelotti' vision moving forward. I believe a major concern this season has been the ability to finish opportune chances at goal
on the 21st May, 2019 at 1:04pm
There was no pressure on the Inter game,and on another day the game could have gone on the other way. I remain unconvinced by the team (its mental strength) and Ancelotti's very open approach - too many cheap dropping of points. I also don't like transfer stories that are being linked with them - the scatter gun approach. The only chance that they have IMO, is if Juve mess up and if the rest continue to shoot themselves in the foot.
on the 21st May, 2019 at 9:41am
As much as I would like to agree with this article, it doesn't seem like one game could really have anything to do with the next season. Napoli has a habit of saying things along the lines of "next season this, next season that".

However, I do hope this will be the turning point for Napoli. I believe in Carlo and some new signings would definitely help. Mario Rui is not cutting it back there at all.
on the 21st May, 2019 at 9:18am
Pfft what’s one game... literally last game of season gonna prove ? ...to an already decided standings team like Napoli. Inter are terrible. Fact.
Whether they scored 1, 4, or 9 goals it wouldn’t make much difference at all seasons done and dusted.
It cost Spaletti his job.
This Napoli will be worse next year. So boring.
Ancelotti is secretly envious that he wishes
he could now jump back onto Juve bench now that there’s a head coach job opening.
on the 21st May, 2019 at 3:56am
if one 4-1 makes a team ready at last, then I guess Empoli is ready at last too..

talk about stupid logic
on the 21st May, 2019 at 3:56am
lol, Napoli is ready to go nowhere except on vacation.
on the 21st May, 2019 at 12:58am
Couldn't disagree more.

1. One game is meaningless. Napoli also beat Roma away 4-1 and then went on to have a horrible April

2. Ancelotti has not instilled any style or tactics. The team has no identity. I don't know what Napoli's style is and the team lacks creativity

3. There is no pressing either and against second tier English teams like Arsenal Napoli had no chance

I am actually worried for next season. Hope Ancelotti goes to Juve and Napoli gets Sarri back or Gasperini
on the 20th May, 2019 at 11:06pm
Napoli will need to get better defenders in order to actually challenge Juv or in Europe. Until Ghoulam gets back to his best, Rui is not a reliable option. Koulibaly needs a better partner as well. I always think Zielinski is at his best when playing as attacking midfielder. If Insigne does leave, it might be a chance to buy a left winger and play 4231, with Milik and Mertens rotating. Also, all of Napoli players need to practise their shooting. Too many wasted chances this season.
on the 20th May, 2019 at 5:37pm
Ready at the right time, with only one week to go and nothing to play for. A huge round of applause for everyone involved in this massive feat.
on the 20th May, 2019 at 5:15pm
Hilarious read. 1 victory over a side whose primadonna forward cannot get his head out of his backside, whose manager knows he's counting his last days, despite the false assurances the Management gives of his stay. This "Napoli" is the same one which had ample chances to catch up with a faltering Juventus, but couldn't deliver under pressure - a recurring theme of the Napoli sides of Sarri, and Ancelotti. I hope this dilettante writer will not make such dramatic declarations in the future...
on the 20th May, 2019 at 5:05pm

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