Wednesday March 14 2012
Bravo, Napoli!

Napoli are out of the Champions League, but Susy Campanale says all true football fans should stand up and applaud them.

We had already written their sporting obituaries when the draw was made. How would Napoli, a side that hadn’t been in Europe’s top competition for 21 years, emerge from a group that included Bayern Munich, star-studded Manchester City and Giuseppe Rossi’s Villarreal? Even scrapping for third place and a ticket to the Europa League would’ve seemed a great achievement. Instead, we saw them show no fear as they debuted with a 1-1 at the City of Manchester Stadium. They were the only side to really scare Bayern before the Germans had qualified and they took advantage of Villarreal’s disastrous run. The Last 16 urn pitted them against powerhouses Chelsea, but again the little Partenopei with their insanely passionate supporters could only be beaten in extra time after scoring four goals in two games. Walter Mazzarri is right to say “my Napoli were fantastic in this Champions League.”

I stand and applaud Mazzarri, his Three Tenors and every player who worked their socks off to get them this far. Any right-minded fan of football should do the same, for Napoli played often spectacular football that was always open and attacking, never cowed nor arrogant, going head-to-head with among the biggest clubs in Europe. Not once did they seem out-matched, even at Stamford Bridge.

The 4-1 result on the night was incredibly harsh, especially considering Napoli were by far the more impressive team before Didier Drogba’s opener and Christian Maggio’s injury. Neither Milan-style complacency here, nor the kind of clichéd defensive approach an ITV commentator might call ‘typically Italian.’ If anything, the only side we saw play-acting and time-wasting in London was the Premier League darlings. I hope Drogba gets suspended or at least fined for feigning an elbow to the face in extra time. It won’t happen, but it’d be nice to send a signal.

So at the final whistle there is great sadness at seeing Napoli go out. We shall miss their fans’ full-throated singing ‘The Chaaampiooooooons!’ at the theme tune. The spectacle of Pocho Lavezzi bursting forward at incredible speed, or Edinson Cavani sneaking in between defenders. Marek Hamsik’s increasingly ludicrous hair. Hugo Campagnaro’s bright blue gumshield that made him look like he’d just stored his chewing gum under his lip. Every now and then being reminded of just how short Walter Gargano is. Mazzarri whipping off his jacket after a particularly emphatic touchline tantrum.

No more shall they be appreciated in Europe this season, but I can bet Napoli have done more than enough to earn themselves some new fans in Italy and all over the world. They’ll be back, maybe with more strength in depth and certainly with greater experience. I can’t wait.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Welcome back Boss. I always look forward to reading more words of wisdom from you.
You are 100% right Napoli did blow a first leg lead, and that has started to happend a lot with Italian teams and your also right its mental thing, Italian team have to be more strong in the head when they play English teams.
Both United and City are 1st and 2rd in the permership, while Sporting and Bilbao are 6th and 7th in there leagues, United were totaly outplayed over both ties and lucky not to lose by more.
on the 21st March, 2012 at 11:48pm
Julian i am fixated as people like you think napoli should be applauded for losing. Frank both manchester clubs were not winning first legs 3-1 tho were they? common sense you should try and use your own, barca are at the top because they are damn good, it is madrid that spends a lot. Khaled you cant understand that english teams conquer italian teams in head to heads. token so long as a team is applauded for losing 4-1 i will b here to criticise those applauding
on the 20th March, 2012 at 7:06pm
Napoli played some great football over the 2 legs and were a bit unlucky. Shame that Suzy has spoiled an otherwise entertaining blog with her comments on Drogba. If n Italian player had done it she would be commending their 'furbo' I love Italy and Italian football but I don't see how the country that producec Luciano Moggi should start lecturing on fair play. We may have wealthy foreign owners but as yet they do not arrange the results of matches.
on the 19th March, 2012 at 1:19pm
@ Boss

Don't be a hater, be a celebrator.

Anyway, why do you read Italian Football websites if you hate our game so much? Or are you just a wind up merchant and this is how you get your kicks? Think you need a girlfriend mate or need to get out more.
on the 17th March, 2012 at 11:19pm
To Boss the only reason English clubs have become successful is through money they haven't earned anything they've had it all handed to them just like everything else in life
on the 17th March, 2012 at 12:27pm
italian teams suck!!!
in the last 5 years two teams from italy(2007,2010),one from spain (2009,2011),and one from england (2007),have won the champions league.
and this year arsenal and manchester city were eleminated from the competition by milan and napoli.
i am from jordan (middle east),and many jordanians became fans of napoli in the last two years.
and remember napoli was in serie c in 2006,in just 6 years napoli became one of the best teams in europe.
bravo napoli.
on the 17th March, 2012 at 1:38am
At Boss, english teams winning trophies? EPL and FA cup are the only trophies an English team has recently lifted, you dont really count those on a continental front.
Admittedly the 2 spanish giants are in front due to individual tv deals as opposed to goup agreements. Barca and madrid receive 85% of all tv revenue in Spain. Not to mention the rich pay reletively no tax meaning players in Spain can NET more even though clubs fork out less. And cause of this unemployment in Spain has risen to 22%
on the 17th March, 2012 at 12:27am
To Boss- Italian teams suck, who ever you are and from. Your coming across as a bit of a bigot and even a racists with your views.

OK we all get you don't like Italian football, so just keep your views to yourself. You can get a job on Sky Sports or ITV, as all they do is slag Italian football off, but yet they know sweet FA about Italian football just like you.

How is Napoli a disgrace??? Both Mancherster clubs got knocked out this week, are they more of a disgrace than Napoli.
on the 16th March, 2012 at 11:35pm
Boss, why are you so fixated with this blog? What's wrong with you? All you have done over the past couple of days is insult Italian football and its' supporters. Grow up man and catch yourself on!!
on the 16th March, 2012 at 9:07pm
I am deeply concerned that many of you are so satisfied with a team bein pummeled 4-1. It is this lack of standard that has allowe dItalian teams to become complacent with the rubbish teams that they have becuase the fans are satisfied with losing. You guys carry on with your "bravo Napoli" whislt the English and Spanish carry on winning the trophies.
on the 16th March, 2012 at 7:19pm
Milanista and Juve, you are both suffeirng from a low standard of football. You both, along with many other supporters, seem to think that Napoli put on a good performance depsite being dominated and barely having a sniff of the goal. I have been angered by Italian football clubs for the past few seasons as i feel they never give 100%, the presidents are tight, and the players have no tempo. The English teams have heart and i respect that.
on the 16th March, 2012 at 7:16pm
@Tina Baggio - You sound very hurt by my comments. might i reming you that this is a debate on Napoli's performance and me voicing my opinion that Napoli were poor is allowed, irrespective of how much it hurts you to accept the truth that italian teams almost always lose to english clubs. As for the latter part of your comment, i have not had such an experience, although you sound quite passionate about it as though you speak from past experience. Plenty more fish mate :)
on the 16th March, 2012 at 7:13pm
looking down at all the comments,a lot of unfair one's towards napoli being hammered 4-1 ,
hold on a minute , Napoli Hammered Chelsea 3-1 in the first leg ,
had they sat back in London and defended for their lives like many Italian teams before us,they would have been slaughtered in the media, instead they stuck to their guns and style and almost pulled it offf , don't forget the final score was 5-4 not 4--1, i think some EPL fans need to show napoli some respect
on the 16th March, 2012 at 4:35pm
Bravo? I don't think so for a 4-1 thrashing against a team there for the taking.

Napoli need to invest in some defenders. Every cross that goes into the box looks like a goal this season. If they'd stop conceding they'd be title material, instead they're fighting it out with two very average sides for a top 3 finish.

Like most Italian fans I'm getting a little fed up with watching our clubs sides flop in Europe. Dreading what Barca will do to Milan already...
on the 16th March, 2012 at 12:39pm
Its done to a couple of things.

Every other league in Europe has become much stronger, the Spanish, English and to some extent the German and French leagues are now ahead of Italian teams.

its a shame to say it but its only Milan than can mount a credible challenger in Europe. Inter and Napoli have shown they are not up to it and lack the players.

Italy doesnt have the money it used to to invest in the best players so we have to face it that we are not the best anymore.
on the 16th March, 2012 at 10:17am
Bravo for choking away a strong lead against a mess of a Chelsea squad with a caretaker manager?
on the 16th March, 2012 at 9:42am
Three teams in the last 16, one in the quater final....all of the Italian teams played with fear; Milan tried their hardest to throw it away and Inter only woke up in the last 5 mins. Napoli did well to get there, but given their talent they should have had this in the bag. And look at my beloved Udinese in the Europa league.......why can our teams not turn up to matches like these and bully the other teams off the pitch...its not always about tactics !!
on the 16th March, 2012 at 9:29am
Napoli gives up a 2 goal lead and show that they were not up to the challenge and the title that Susy comes up is BRAVO NAPOLI? give me a break!
on the 16th March, 2012 at 9:17am
With all utmost respect to ALL NAPOLI FANS, you guys are merely sore losers. Let me quote an earlier comment by one of your so called fans,"Susy is losing it". So now you guys blame the poor lady who's writing this article who probably does it for a living? Go get a life, or support another club. Napoli doesn't need fans like yourselves.

In my opinion this is a very fair article and it gives due respect where respect is earned and I believe that napoli did try their best last night but as we all know in football even though the ball is round, we can't say what will happen in any match.

Chelsea fought hard to win the match and with that effort they deserved it, compare the number of chances by each team throughout the match. It's not even comparable. There were so many chances chelsea had which were not in the highlights. You could see the fighting spirit within Chelsea. I won't even bother to explain it, there a so many articles out there on the web outlining why chelsea were the better deserving team last night. KUDOS to blues.
on the 16th March, 2012 at 12:59am
Proud of a team that were not able to defend a 2 goal lead? Seriously? Italy needed the extra points to improve its UEFA coefficient. I remember when Italian times were able to dominare in Europe. That was something to be proud of. Not going out after having a 2 goal lead. How our standards have been lowered.
on the 15th March, 2012 at 11:28pm
why is there such an anger from italians towards english teams? relax..

Anyway, Napoli had a wonderful tie. It is a pity they couldnt defend this one correctly. But Chelsea are much to strong on home nights like these. Nothing to be ashamed about, but a case of what if...
on the 15th March, 2012 at 9:27pm
Boss - remember that many us italian football fans are very critical of our own teams performances, and i dont see the need for your attackful comments, making out that the english teams are so superior.

There are peaks and troths in football, Milan, Juve and Inter will at some point reign supreme again, hopefully Milan will do that wihtin a few seasons time and then you can shut your trap!

Italy = Won 4 World Cup
Milan = Won 7 Champions Leagues
No english team can compete with that so do 1!
on the 15th March, 2012 at 8:43pm
to boss u are a sore loser chelsea wouldnt even be in europe if it wernt for you owner and napoli got there with hard work. 
on the 15th March, 2012 at 8:08pm
Drogba wasn't the only play actor on the field..the problem is rife throughout England,Italy and Spain..I think on the night the napoli players were far more cynical and spent a lot more time diving around and feigning injury..They came unstuck due to very naive defending, for example I man on the post would of cleared the second goal, rediculous handball and an unmarked man on the penalty spot for the final goal. I think overall on the night they really ran out of steam and ideas.
on the 15th March, 2012 at 8:02pm
Milanist was the only one who made a decent comment here and I agree 100%
As a Milan fan I was ashamed of the horrible performance against Arsenal. The only thing that saved us was Abbiati's wondersave on Van Persie.
Napolie had a similar performance where they created way too little against a side that HAD TO ATTACK! Italian teams have become too predictable when playing in Europe. These subpar tactics may work well in Serie A but will get annihilated by big clubs in Europe.
on the 15th March, 2012 at 7:45pm
@Toss....i mean boss. After reading your coments i can see that you either didnt watch the game or you are just looking to taunt which isnt really what this page is about. My reply to you should really be about last nights game but as your coments were not about the game but instead trying to make personal attacks, i can only assume that you lost your girlfriend..maybe your wife to an Italian man who showed her a better time than you ever could. hard luck
on the 15th March, 2012 at 7:22pm
A credit to drogba as well who was very good yesterday, a lot better then Ibrahimovic. The man caused so much trouble and yes he does dive, but so what, if it was a stirker winnign the fouls for Napoli you would all be singing his praises. Drogba did what was best for his team and if he was clever enough to get awya with it then thats even better. An embarrassment on all levels, Napoli go out with their heads held very low. At least Madrid and Barca will finally have a challenge
on the 15th March, 2012 at 7:02pm
Nobody be fooled by Inler. Yes his goal was good and jammy. But he was awful yesterday constantly giving away possession, and no desire to attack. I think it should now be the "Two Tenors" as Hamsik is as bad as his haircut. Italian teams are so slow its pathetic. Freddie Roach, in respect on Manny P sums it up best, Speed Kills! Chelsea battered Napoli. Before the match i knew Chelsea would win as Italian teams are timid spineless girls when it comes to playing away. Part 2
on the 15th March, 2012 at 6:58pm
I agree with all of the comments here spitting on Napoli. They are a disgrace, nothing to be proud of. Napoli played so bad, they made Torres look good. I recall a particular moment where Toress skipped past three napoli defenders. What a joke! I have noticed that Italian teams have no character, they have a lot of fear. You could tell Napoli were so scared yesterday. The only guy i will compliment is Lavezzi. He tried so hard and was actually confident with the ball. Part 1
on the 15th March, 2012 at 6:55pm
Napoli play flamboyant football, Chelsea ugly football. Napoli deserve a new 50.000 seater stadium with no running tracks.
on the 15th March, 2012 at 5:41pm

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