Thursday March 7 2013
Cavani needs Mazzarri assist

If Napoli are to end the season strongly then boss Walter Mazzarri has to help Edinson Cavani get back to his devastating best in front of goal. Dave Taylor writes.

‘If’ is not the most important word in football for nothing. If only Edinson Cavani had headed past Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon and not into his hands last Friday. If only his free-kick had gone in and not over the bar. Had he rippled the net in the way he regularly does, he would have extended his lead at the top of the scoring charts. More importantly, however, Napoli would be just three points behind leaders Juve.

The reality is that none of that happened. Instead, Cavani extended his own goal drought which now stands at seven matches – five in Serie A and two Europa League ties. His last strike came in the defeat of Parma on January 27.

His current dry streak in the Italian top-flight is the joint longest in his spell with Napoli and matches the stint last season where, after a hat-trick against Milan, he didn’t net again until a 2-1 defeat by Catania.

“I was without a goal for the entire month of February and March has not started like I would have hoped,” the unfazed Matador noted this week. “But I feel calm and I will find the goal sooner or later. I’ve just had a bit of bad luck recently and I’m working hard to get back among the goals.”

Is it just down to bad luck or is there more to it? One thing is for sure, the Uruguayan does not seem to be getting the same amount of assists as in the past, while the ones he does receive are not being used as incisively. He has also taken to defending, tackling, looking for the ball and consequently because of that going deeper to get it. This leaves him out of position, it takes him away from that zone where he is so dangerous.

Another worrying aspect is that he is being allowed to run around the field like a man who has lost all of his winnings on a game of pitch and toss. These exertions leave him in no fit state to function like a top striker. Why is he playing that way?

One thing we do know is that Cavani’s dilemma is obviously synonymous with Napoli’s. The last time they scored, before Gokhan Inler’s deflected long-distance strike against Juve, was Hugo Campagnaro’s volley against Lazio in early February.

So what is the problem? Certainly the secondary strikers are not pulling their weight. Neither Goran Pandev, who has failed to score for 20 games, nor Lorenzo Insigne have really stepped up to the plate and replaced Pocho Lavezzi. Yet can the blame be apportioned as simply as that or is it more to with Mazzarri, his decision making and his insistence on using the same old tired 3-4-1-2?

By an astonishing coincidence since his arrival, Napoli’s final 12 games of the last three seasons have ended with five wins, three draws and four defeats giving them 18 points.

With that sort of finish again even second place will be a struggle. The Coach has looked increasingly agitated on the touchline and needs to start earning his money. Cavani can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same, but can Mazzarri? Can he trust himself when everyone doubts him and can he make allowances for that doubt? He needs to challenge his players for the big push, he needs to get Cavani back on the goal trail.

Have your say...
Pazzini is still an injured prone donkey. Yes he has a few goals but mainly in the same games and not every one or two games. SES did score against Inter but that was the first in a long time. Doubt he will hit 20 this season..still good though. Neymar...well why not? Money talks and remember Maradona went to Napoli and so did Careca and Rudi Krol! Hope Cavani stays myself and forza Napoli!
on the 19th March, 2013 at 5:44pm
Who would have believed Maradona would go to Napoli? Neymar or any other player should welcome such a challenge as an opportunity to be great.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 2:04pm

1. Neymar would never go to Napoli?
2. Ses has the same drought as Cavani? Lol, not really. He scored against Inter (2 games ago) and get man of the match every second game.
3. Pazzini turned out to be a great signing with important goals.

Anything else?
on the 11th March, 2013 at 12:20pm
I have a funny feeling Cavani won't leave. Champions League football next season, the opportunity to break Maradona's goals record for Napoli - legend status!
You don't get that in Paris, Manchester or Madrid.
on the 10th March, 2013 at 1:42pm
Unfortunately Cavani may leave.. I hope he doesnt but if it's for the 63 million lets hope Napoli splash most of it on Neymar or someone as good and quick as Cavani!
on the 9th March, 2013 at 8:14pm
@Garry, Pazzini is a donkey, SES is good but is having the same goal drought. As 4 Qualiarella...he left his home city like a thief in the night and would never be welcomed in the city again. He is hated like no other by neopolitans and is deemed a traitor!
on the 9th March, 2013 at 8:10pm
No point leaving Napoli to go to PSG or Man City! Only Real Madrid could offer Cavani the opportunity to improve. Barca just isn't the right place for him. But Cavani needs to decide now and get on with scoring goals for Napoli.
on the 8th March, 2013 at 2:22pm
I agree that Mazzarri should mix things up a bit. The problem is that none of his wing backs can defend, especially Maggio-his performances for Italy, at right back have been awful. I have been disappointed with Insigne. Under Zeman, he played with freedom and without fear; whilst at Napoli, he appears to be playing with the handbrake on. He has only shown glimpses of his talent. I am not convinced by Mazzarri, & feel that with the players he's got, Napoli should be doing better.
on the 8th March, 2013 at 9:48am
Interesting thoughts. A few people on here are saying that this kind of defensive play is normal for Cavani, which is not the case. Yes he has always done it (to an extent) but since his drought its been even more obvious and more frequent. His style of play has changed and its become exacerbated by his lack of goals and lack of confidence.

Anyone who watches Napoli week in week out will know its not the norm for him.

Mazzarri needs to give him his confidence back.
on the 8th March, 2013 at 9:30am
PSG or Madrid in the summer for me,
on the 7th March, 2013 at 10:02pm
@Santino Roberts

I can tell you this much, there are several other clubs he would go to such as PSG, City, and even Barca. Believe me.. money talks. If the cough up 65 mill are you telling me Napoli would reject?
on the 7th March, 2013 at 7:57pm
The media have managed to take Cavani's mind away from Napoli. There is only one club Cavani would leave Napoli for - Real Madrid. And when they come knocking, any player would think about it. Cavani said God told him to go to Napoli, he needs to get back into that sort of thinking.
on the 7th March, 2013 at 7:33pm
Pandev is an average player and Insigne is still a season or two away from reaching his potential. Teams know how to play against Napoli; mark Cavani out of the game and wind up Hamsik and the rest of the team fall apart. Napoli should have bought Pazzini or El Shaarawy or even Quagliarella.
on the 7th March, 2013 at 7:00pm
Cavani has always been tracking back since the beginning of time. Didn't start during his goal drought.
on the 7th March, 2013 at 6:52pm
strange article !!
Napoli just dont have luck.
i am extremely happy to be just 2 wins apart a club like Juve;just look at EPL & La Liga.
my optimism has increased after the 0-0 draw & Juves win over celtic;players will surely be tired,it now depends on Juves mental strength.
Mazza has been regularly rotating from 3-man defence to 4-man or vice-versa.
Cavani has always been helping in defence & getting really deep,he is not lucky nowadays,& do you really expect Buffon to concede simple header ?
on the 7th March, 2013 at 6:44pm
When they sold Lavezzi who help Cavani a lot and pulled hes weight as the second they didn't replace him with the same quality this what Napoli have been missing all season
on the 7th March, 2013 at 5:16pm
Even though Napoli is having an amazing season, I still feel the loss of Lavezzi was huge. If Cavani and Hamsik are not scoring the entire team shuts down. Pandev has been disappointing this season as well. Insigne is supposed to be the answer, but he needs to play more freely and be more clinical in front of goal.
on the 7th March, 2013 at 5:15pm
Definitely needs to ditch to 3 man defence and go for something more attacking that allows Insigne and Oandev to both play. 4-2-3-1 would be ideal I think.
on the 7th March, 2013 at 4:49pm

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