Saturday October 24 2020
Which one is the real Napoli?

Napoli began their Europa League campaign with a home defeat against Az Alkmaar that highlighted where Rino Gattuso’s men are desperate to improve, writes Ciro Di Brita.

After impressing so much at the weekend when they pummelled Atalanta 4-1 at the San Paolo, expectations were high heading into Napoli’s Europa League fixture with AZ Alkmaar.

Unfortunately for coach Gennaro Gattuso and his men, the Eredivisie side did not read the script and shocked the Azzurri by snatching a 1-0 win.

The Campanians have now lost their last four Europa League games in a row, while scoring just once in that run and none in their last three. This is a competition they can be accused of underperforming in, just like the rest of the clubs of Serie A down through the years. Excluding Inter’s final appearance in the summer, no Italian side has reached the showpiece since Parma beat Olympique Marseille in 1999.

The San Paolo faithful will say this was a performance they are well used to witnessing, when a so-called smaller club turns up and plays uber defensive for the entirety of the game only to catch the Partenopei on the break. This tie was reminiscent of a midweek league fixture against a Chievo or even last season’s 1-0 defeat to Cagliari.

Could Gattuso’s side be accused of cockiness and taking this game lightly against a team that had to leave nine players at home due to positive Coronavirus tests? Possibly.

The Neapolitans can be guilty of yet another Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde week in football, the highs of the weekend and the lows of a disappointing home defeat in Europe.

Compared to last Saturday’s match against the Orobici,, their passing and movements were much slower, the hunger and desire not as ravenous in Europe. Excuses could be made about the state of the pitch and the penalty call not given, however, that still does not change the fact that Napoli did not create enough clear-cut goal scoring chances to trouble AZ.

Last weekend, a lot was made of that win against Atalanta and questions were posed about the possibilities of Napoli winning the Scudetto.

If the Azzurri are to be truly considered as a title challenger this year, they will need to figure out a way to break down teams that are happy to play with 11 men behind the ball. Gattuso and his men still have plenty of work to do to change that affliction that has plagued them in recent years.

Have your say...
Yep! If they keep demolishing sides like Atalanta then they'll have to get used to teams comin' and defending with 11 men. I only saw bits but AZ closed the space on both wings and were so deep Napoli couldn't use Osimhen to hold up for runners or get in behind. But they've got pace, power & a bit of trickery up front, they just lacked composure which was a bit ironic considering they were so slow compared to usual. Don't forget AZ were inspired too, they defended like their lives depended on it
on the 25th October, 2020 at 9:02am
Unfortunately not believe Thursday is the real not believe. One word to some of the club but there is an extreme lack of, and that is “steel”: They don’t have any. Yes, quality team and a match for absolutely anyone on their day, but unfortunately to win trophies you need to be consistent and dig out results when even the game is beneath you. Napoli are improving, as is Gattuso, but again they will be runner up to Juventus.
on the 24th October, 2020 at 11:00pm
lol so Napoli chicken out of a game because two of their players were covid positive, comes along a nobody club from Dutch league, with the whole senior squad decimated by COVID and takes all three points away from Naples..

And this is the NAPOLI that aspires to become great and winning league titles?

get the hell out of here.
on the 24th October, 2020 at 7:12pm
This is why it is both fun and frustrating to be a Napoli fan. Their season is always a roller coaster, and hitting the woodwork more than any other team in Serie A is a statistic I wish the Partenopei would pass on to someone else.

But they are always my Napoli, and I am not a fair weather fan. I know some day they will find the right combination of coach and players, and the Scudetto will be theirs. One bad game in a crazy pandemic year is not enough to make me lose faith. Forza Napoli!
on the 24th October, 2020 at 6:41pm
Where is A. Milik??
on the 24th October, 2020 at 11:33am
This season is unpredictable because of covid, you just can't take league form and European form at face value. Even Lazio defeated Dortmund even though they lost against Sampdoria. Other leagues also had crazy results like Tottenham-United, Villa-Liverpool, or Bayern-Hoffenheim. Bayern would've never defeated Atletico 4-0 if the condition was normal. Congested fixtures, lack of pre-season, and limited transfers affected everyone and it's hard to get real consistency.
on the 24th October, 2020 at 11:24am
I called it. This is Gattuso. No matter if his team win some matches, the time will come when they will lose and go into crisis mode. This cycle goes on.
on the 24th October, 2020 at 11:02am

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