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Napoli Blogger On March - 24 - 2011

Napoli Notizie: A Closer Look At The Partenopei


In the first of what will be a regular feature we take a closer look at Calcio’s most surprising team, SSC Napoli. Serie A Weekly presents the debut of Paolo Mancini

The finish line is in sight, after 30 games only four teams remains standing, Udinese, Napoli, Internazionale and AC Milan, and with the upcoming fixtures it looks like the title winner maybe crowned on the last day.

With eight games to go Napoli are within sight of their first Scudetto since 1990, an amazing feat considering the amount of funds they have spent compared to AC Milan this season and the fact club did not exist for a period in 2004, thanks to the patronage of movie mogul Aurellio De Laurentiis, the shrewd work in the market by Riccardo Bigon and the tactical acumen of Walter Mazzarri, Napoli are now a real force in Serie A.

However, much is at stake for Napoli as we get set for the run-in, not only are Napoli just three points behind AC Milan at the top of Serie A but also only three points clear of Udinese in fourth.

Napoli face a tough run-in to the end of the season but this a run of fixtures that gives Napoli an excellent opportunity, not only to cement Champions League qualification by gaining positive results over Lazio and Udinese but by winning those games they are likely to be in a position to mount a very serious challenge for the title as AC Milan and Inter square off in the derby and will take points off each other, If Napoli beat Lazio in the same match day then it really is game on as they play Inter at home on week 37, a game which could be a title decider.

Lazio, Udinese and Inter will be very tough games, however Napoli play these games at home. The Stadio San Paolo has been the definition of a fortress the last few months. Unbeaten since November, only one goal conceded at home in the same period. Napoli will need all the support they can get to overcome these challenges. The San Paolo will be crucial. Nothing is more intimidating to an opposing side than a packed out San Paolo under the floodlights. Napoli must make this advantage count!

It would be very easy to credit Napoli’s success this season down to Edinson Cavani and his record equalling goals tally in Serie A but Napoli would not be performing so well if it were not for man-motivator Walter Mazzarri. Since he took over a few games into the 2009/10 season Napoli have been on an upward curve. Napoli finished last season with 59 points and already have that amount at the International break this season, arguably with a weaker squad but with a better team. He has masterminded victories over sides Napoli had not beaten in years such as Roma, Cagliari, Sampdoria and Genoa.

From back to front he has the squad well drilled. He has remedied a leaky back-line; he is getting the best out of Andrea Dossena and more so Christian Maggio who has been sensational at times. Mazzarri also demanded Cavani in summer of 2010 as he spotted what nobody else did… playing him as a main striker. He has gave the squad belief, he has not let the heads drop when they could have done so many times and Napoli always back bounce back after a defeat. This season he has gave the team Grinta such as the games at home to Lecce and Cagliari when the team didn’t play well but they found a way to win. Mazzarri is also an emotional man, coaching a club from an emotional city. The perfect combination when things are going right.

Whatever happens to Napoli in final weeks of the season the players, coach and management can be very proud of what they have achieved, almost certain to beat last seasons points total, on course for European qualification and the fans energised like I have never seen before. Social media is buzzing, fans engaging with each other with such excitement, the Napoli message boards are alive, the pride and belief is back to a city and fan base that has waited for this moment for so long. This Napoli side fills me with so much pride, what they have achieved is beyond anything I had hoped for at the start of the season.

If they were to reach the promised land it would the most remarkable point in Napoli’s history, Bankruptcy in 2004 to Serie A champions in 2011, De Laurentiis could not make a script up for that, could he?

Paolo runs the Napoli Blogger site and you can follow him on Twitter here

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