In the 2021/22 season, Napoli finished only third, letting Milan and Inter go too far. In the current season, they expected the same from the Neapolitans, because Milan and Inter were also in order, and a slightly stagnant Juventus had to catch up with them, but in reality it turned out completely differently. As the first 19 rounds of the 2022/23 season show, it was Napoli who turned out to be head and shoulders above the rest of the competitors, thanks to which they are in first place, and even with a comfortable margin of 12 points. The reasons why Napoli is the best team in Italy at the moment, we will analyze below.
Let’s start with the obvious and with what did not depend on Napoli, but that is precisely what helps during the season. Contrary to expectations, reigning champions Milan didn’t improve over the summer, lost a couple of key players, and generally began to look much worse than the previous season. The main replacement could be Inter, who handed out the only defeat of the season to Napoli (1-0), but you can’t talk about their stability. The Nerazzurri have already lost six games in 19 games, including the last game against Empoli (0-1).
For the rest, the situation is as follows: Juventus became involved in scandals and was penalized with the deduction of points, while Atalanta, Lazio and Roma cannot be called real contenders for the Scudetto.
The eternal rivals of Napoli immediately gave up the relief, which the team gladly takes advantage of.
What associations arise when you think of the Napoli game? For me, the Neapolitan game always seemed sharp, assertive, offensive and even reckless in the good sense of the word, but constantly lacking something to achieve a result.
Luciano Spalletti became the ideal designer of this machine, who managed to establish all the processes and raise them to the highest degree. Napoli continues to put pressure on the opponent for 90 minutes, regardless of the score, because the players simply enjoy the game itself, and do not play solely for the result. But more importantly, now Napoli’s game is still in chaos, but just this season it is controlled chaos that is incredibly hard to resist.
In an era of sterile and rigidly structured football, it is especially nice to watch the Napoli game, because it has everything that many liked about football from decades past.
PERFECT TEAM PLAY, ROOM DEPTH
More often than not, championship teams have pronounced star leaders, but even here Napoli is very different from most. The light blue whites already have eight players who have scored at least five points in the goal + pass system:
Victor Osimhen – 13+3
Jvicha Kvaratskhelia – 7+7
Elif Elmas – 5+1
Pyotr Zelinski – 3+5
Mateo Politano – 3+2
André Zambo-Angissa – 2+4
Milan, which currently trails Napoli in the standings, has only five such players. The Neapolitan game brings danger from anywhere and anyone can score.
Spalletti has a great variety of composition, which was made possible by the wide bench. Napoli has an alternative player for almost every position, who can replace one or the other absent player without loss of quality.
A toothy attack is good, but Napoli’s success would not have been possible without impeccable defence. It was only in the summer that a new formation in the center of the defense of Kim Min Jae and Amir Rrahmani became impenetrable to almost any attack from the opponents. They do not make stupid mistakes near the penalty area, gnaw balls on the “ground floor”, remove the entire top, and generally look almost flawless. And with this they manage to secure the extreme defenders, who manage to work not only in defense, but also in attack.
And if the Napoli defense suddenly made a moment at their gates, then goalkeeper Alex Meret comes into play, who is currently the best goalkeeper in Serie A by many statistical indicators, including saves in goal situations.
The result of the fusion of a well-played defense and a goalkeeper who took courage, Napoli conceded only 14 goals. For comparison: Milan is 24, Inter is 25.
Spalletti managed to strike the perfect balance, which is important not to lose at the end of the season.