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Sunday October 18 2020
Regrets grow stronger for Napoli

The excitement generated by a comfortable triumph over the league’s form side has been dampened by the Juventus controversy, writes Owen Diana.

That a 4-1 victory over one of Europe’s best outfits could be bittersweet would be inconceivable in normal circumstances, but the last few weeks have been anything but normal for Napoli. Saturday’s first-half destruction of La Dea highlighted how far the Southerners have come in recent months, but that impressive improvement has been tempered by the fallout from the club’s decision not to travel to Turin to face Juventus. On this evidence, the Partenopei would have been more than a match for The Old Lady, but that will be of little comfort if a dubious points deduction ends up derailing a shot at the Scudetto.

Truth is stranger than fiction for the Neapolitans, who have been on the cusp of a third league title for much of the last decade. Their nearly men tag has been well-earned, with four runner-up finishes since 2012. The most notable of those came under Maurizio Sarri, who guided his hometown team to a record haul of 91 points during 2017-18. However, they still finished four behind an all-conquering Juventus, and that is exactly the number of points Napoli lost on their bitter rival as a result of the Serie A disciplinary committee’s controversial ruling.

However, there is hope that Gattuso’s charges could overcome that hammer blow and contend at the top of the table. The addition of Victor Osimhen has added a new dimension going forward, with the Nigerian proving the perfect foil for a deep cast of lithe creators. Previous record signing Hirving Lozano has been the main beneficiary so far, with his four goals equaling his total from all of last season. Those two combined to devastating effect on Saturday and should continue to wreak havoc up and down the peninsula.

Further back, a once-shaky rearguard has tightened up considerably. Sam Lammers’ consolation strike at San Paolo has been the only goal conceded so far, with Kalidou Koulibaly living up to his reputation as one of the best center-backs around. The Senegalese man-mountain is the safety valve that allows Napoli to execute their suffocating high press, which did not allow a normally fluent Atalanta attack to build up any sense of rhythm.

Even though the Partenopei are well-versed in the type of coordinated harrying that has become commonplace at the elite level, they are just as comfortable sitting back and waiting to pick their opponent off on the counter. That versatility would have made them an extremely dangerous foe for Juve, who would have surely tried to dominate the ball and territory at the Allianz Stadium.

After June’s famous Coppa Italia conquest, being denied another opportunity to get one over on their archnemesis could have easily distracted Napoli ahead of their meeting with La Dea, but their emphatic response in the face of adversity speaks to a mental fortitude that will serve them well for the challenges ahead. This promises to be the most open title race in years, with The Old Lady and fellow favorites Inter both stumbling out of the blocks. Gattuso and company are playing with house money in a game that has already been rigged against them, but that reality will make failure to win the jackpot even more painful.

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Have your say...
"one of Europe’s best outfits"
please, Atalanta is just a mid-table club.
They are just enjoying the moment now.. similar to what Udinese, Chievo, and Sassuolo did couple years ago. They will pass and Atalanta will be back to where they belong. It's funny you mentioned them as one of Europe’s best outfits hahahah...
on the 20th October, 2020 at 7:34am
Juve whine and cry to anyone who will listen about Napoli not traveling to play. But decide to use caution and suspend the youth academy. Is that against protocol? Is there a fine involved? Or deduction of points? Or is just common sense when cases are sharply rising in Europe? How pathetic to penalize Napoli. And we wonder why Italy as a whole, and Serie A get no respect in the rest of Europe.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 12:31am
Owen Diana is a disgrace of a writer, "the club’s decision not to travel to Turin to face Juventus". When the club continuously denies that they decided to stay home. Football Italia should dismiss this writer.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 5:49pm
@Pinturicchio Upset the referee missed his bribe last game and you end up drawing Crotone?!

Lmao your team can't win without cheating.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 4:29pm
Calling Atalanta as one of the best outfits in Europe is very laughable. One of the most entertaining for sure, but the best??? LMAO they don't win anything in the end. Gasperini's cockiness sooner or later will fall apart !!
on the 19th October, 2020 at 10:51am
Pinturicchio 2 UCL in your history and last one in 1996 your team will go nowhere as usual at 4 times the payroll of the 2nd team in Italy u should hide in a closet and don't come out until u achieve something more the domestic title as supposedly best team in Italy. Ronaldo won't help and at this point not even Christ will help so don't criticize. Milan is italys dynasty.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 1:54am
Napoli is a much deeper and more dangerous team this season. The speed and skill of Osimhen has added a new dimension to the attack giving Napoli the ability to open defenses and is nothing to laugh at.They may not be able to replay the Juve match and the loss of points Is lamentable but they will remain competitive and if they can stay healthy will have a chance st the Scudetto. The key to their success will be the ability to overcome psychological obstacles of the past and league favoritism.
on the 18th October, 2020 at 9:34pm
They'll never win the league with that clown of a owner, will always be the nearly men and nothing more.
on the 18th October, 2020 at 8:50pm
First, the court case isn't over yet. I have faith there will be a reversal.

Second, if there is not a reversal, the injustice will motivate Napoli throughout the season, just as it did against Atalanta.

Third, Juventus still have to come to the San Paolo. Even without fans, it will be an unwelcoming place.

I have faith in my team. Forza Napoli!!!
on the 18th October, 2020 at 7:47pm
@Luca

That means Milan would be fourth at best...
on the 18th October, 2020 at 12:25pm
First few weeks tell us nothing. Juve did worse than this seasons ago yet still won the Scudetto in the end. That being said, I don't think Juve are going to win it easy this time. They will have their toughest season yet. Napoli on the other hand, while it's a great team individually, you can't be sure with Gattuso. It's possible they start losing some matches and go into full blown crisis mode. I guess Juve, Inter, Napoli and Atalanta have chances to fight for the top with Milan the dark horse
on the 18th October, 2020 at 12:23pm
Pirlo doesn't have the players to play the formation he wants to IMO yet he's trying to force it. Bold prediction but I think Napoli or Inter will win the league with Juve 3rd
on the 18th October, 2020 at 10:35am
Bakayoko was an added bonus offering more physicality in a midfield that could get dominated physically and keeping KK meant they have a good defence. The only position I would've liked to see strengthened was at LB but Mario Rui isn't a bad player for the time being. Sometimes it just takes 1 or 2 signings to make the difference and I feel Napoli have achieved that. They look perfectly balanced for the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formations. Juve on the other hand look all over the place squad wise
on the 18th October, 2020 at 10:34am
I actually tipped Napoli for the title at the start of the season. The additions of Lozano and Manolas last season were great and never truly bedded in for one reason or another so I fancied them to do much much better this season. Osimhen was a brilliant additions as although I wasn't and still am not convinced he's the kind of striker to score 25-30 league goals his overall contribution to the team is huge with his pace, pressing and height and power. Something Napoli lacked
on the 18th October, 2020 at 10:31am
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!


I needed this Sunday morning laugh, especially after the pathetic draw against Crotone...


Thanks, Mr. Wannabe Writer!!
on the 18th October, 2020 at 10:18am
Can you please get the table right...Napoli is on 8 points!
on the 18th October, 2020 at 10:08am

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