Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

David Schiavone On November - 3 - 2009

The Partenopei Phoenix, Is Napoli Rising?

Marek Hamsik celebrates after scoring on Juventus 11.01.09Have Napoli turned a corner? Many people, including myself, think they have indeed.

It wasn’t so long ago that the Partenopei were conducting a magnificent summer transfer campaign, bringing in Juan Zúñiga from Siena, Hugo Campagnaro a surprise addition from Sampdoria and enticing Fabio Quagliarella back to his hometown club. While adding Azzurrini sensation Luca Cigarini to an already talented bunch of youngsters that included Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik.
I could go on, as the amount of talent that Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has brought in is truly amazing. They have one of the most impressive squads in the peninsula.

But after the sacking of Edy Reja in March this year, it was left to former national team boss Roberto Donadoni to lead this expensively assembled squad. We all know how successful his reign as coach was. Poor performances, restlessness in the dressing room and strange player selections – Zúñiga at left-midfield anyone? But ultimately terrible results.

The Naples outfit was, at one point, 15th in the table with four defeats in the opening seven league matches. Donadoni’s overall record was a humiliating four victories in 17 games at the helm of the Azzurri.

After a 2-1 defeat to AS Roma, it was time for change. In waltzed Walter Mazzarri, former Sampdoria manager talking up the club and players. It seemed overnight, the Donadoni curse had lifted. Victories over Bologna and Fiorentina, A magnificent comeback against AC Milan and the stunning victory over Juventus at the weekend have propelled Napoli to 6th place in the table.

Mazzarri has instilled the kind of belief that Donadoni could not. During his tenure the Azzurri would have capitulated when going behind and more often than not did capitulate. Whereas now we see a renewed sense of optimism where going behind is not the end of the world but frees the side from the shackles of expectation.

Going into Saturdays match at the Olimpico in Turin, Napoli were undefeated under Mazzarri who had instilled a never-say-die spirit into the Partenopei players. This re-birth of the Napoli side could catapult them into title contention, I’m not for a second tipping them as Scudetto winners but as a side who will prove a real thorn in the Juve’s and Inter’s of this world. It may be that they have a very large impact on the destination of the 2009/2010 Championship.

Already having a magnificent season, Hamsik has been a shining light for his side in recent weeks and seems to have taken over from Lavezzi as Napoli’s go-to-guy. His performance against Juve was his best performance of the year, capping it two wonderfully taken goals. He is fast becoming one of the best attacking midfield players in Europe. His darting runs and clever one-twos leave opposition defenders in a daze. With 7 goals already in Serie A, it seems there will be many more.

The season is only young but can the Mazzarri machine make a strong title push, probably not. Can they secure European football, in particular the Champions League, most definitely?

One Response so far.

  1. Vishnu Chari says:

    nice article dov, napoli are certainly on their way up. Whether or not they can go all the way is dependant upon the club's need to sell players to generate cash. If they are indeed a selling club, it could all go haywire in jan when Chelsea come out with the breifcases of rubles, and Sir Alex decides to spend some of that Ronaldo Revenue. If they can hold onto Lavezzi and Hamsik, they could do okay.

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