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Friday November 6 2015
Napoli contending on three stages

Napoli are going strong due to an impressive amount of depth in the team, writes Vincent Van Genechten.

Napoli have been great in Serie A, but they have been simply amazing in the Europa League. On Thursday, Napoli beat Midtjylland 5-0 at the Stadio San Paolo and qualified for the second round of the tournament after just four games in the group stages.

Maurizio Sarri’s team has scored 16 goals so far, 14 from open play and just two from set pieces. Possibly even more impressive: Napoli have conceded just one goal (a deflected shot at Midtjylland), further proof that Sarri has his team lined up perfectly on both ends of the pitch.

For Napoli, it has been a remarkable tournament so far and Sarri has done it using mostly reserves. For example, Manolo Gabbiadini and Dries Mertens have combined to score seven goals in Europe, while both share just four starts between them during the opening 11 rounds in Serie A.

Mertens was out against Midtjylland but Gabbiadini once again showed his talent. He bagged two goals, using his excellent timing and positional play. True striker goals. Meanwhile, the little-used Omar El Kaddouri built on his solid game in Denmark (two assists) to score the opener after a beautiful pass from Lorenzo Insigne. The Belgian made a great run forward, a talent he has used every time he’s got the chance to play.

Insigne himself had a great game. The playmaker dominated the first half. Midtjylland fell back in defence, with eight or nine players behind the ball. Napoli showed patience and kept passing. When Insigne touched the ball, he used his quick feet to create space and be dangerous with a push forward or pass.

The same was true for the other guy with the low socks, Marek Hamsik. Napoli controlled the tempo, with the Slovakian asking for the ball quite deep for his position. With simple triangles and a higher pace, Napoli broke the visitor’s defence. The second goal of the match was a prime example of this tactic.

Insigne and Hamsik are regular starters for Napoli, but their depth also showed at the back. Mirko Valdifiori, the third player with rolled-down socks, didn’t make a ground breaking appearance but just did his job. He had a passing success rate of 96 per cent and, together with David Lopez, prevented Midtjylland getting into a rhythm. And even right-back Christian Maggio scored a goal, because Sarri wants his defenders to push forward.

Napoli keep going strong and have now scored 32 goals in their last 12 competitive matches, conceding just three. That’s a +29 goal difference. With enough depth at nearly every position on the field and a couple of key difference makers, there’s no reason to believe this team can’t compete for a treble: Scudetto, Coppa Italia and Europa League.

Have your say...
The only problem I see with this Napoli is that they can be dragged down into a scrap whilst playing lesser teams, as seen at Carpi and Genoa. However, if they can avoid this more often that not, then they'll be looking like clear faves by February. As for Europa, it'll be tough at the latter stages but no other team in that cup has looked a scratch on Napoli yet. Good luck to them, forza Italia in Europa!!!
on the 8th November, 2015 at 12:35pm
From a Milanista, I wish they can win Europa League. It will be perfect if we saw Napoli against Fiorentina in the Final.
on the 8th November, 2015 at 8:49am
After reading the article i said to myself, "man! It is possible! Whey not? It fits the bill! ". If you believe napoli can win the title then believe me they would win the cup & europa league easily. Remember one thing, napoli are a cup team. And you heard from the writer, the team full of depth. So if the 'treble' happens, me & Van Genechten owe coffe from the guys who disbelieve it?!?!
on the 7th November, 2015 at 1:28pm
Napoli have really settled in & taken to heart Sarri's style of play, they are simply on fire & are playing best football in Italy & surely in the top 5 in Europe atm.
The depth is too scary for a Europa League team but for the run into Scudetto another centre-back & a midfielder will come handy.
but honestly a Europa league Treble is asking too much for any team, players need to take it one game at a time & focus on winning against lesser sides..
loving these times,
Forza Napoli
on the 7th November, 2015 at 10:50am
Treble, no. However, they will be in this title race for the duration, no question. There is something different about them this season. Already they have a more mature approach to the way they play. No messing about at the back, and plenty of aggression and guts going forward. Sarri may just be the best signing of the season.
I put money on Napoli winning the league right now.
on the 7th November, 2015 at 2:49am
I love NAPOLI!I love them to death but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Us fans can dream about that stuff, but the players need to feet on ground and take it one game at a time. I will not say anything but us Napoli fans are having a lot of fun this year! and it's only still very early!
on the 7th November, 2015 at 1:36am

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