2019/20 Countdown: Napoli
Serie A – 2nd; Coppa Italia – Quarter-finals; UEFA Champions League – Group Stage; UEFA Europa League – Quarter-finals; Top scorer (All competitions) – Arkadiusz Milik (20)
The question: Will nearly still be enough?
For the past few years, Napoli have made a habit of being there or thereabouts. Valiant, but ultimately futile, shots at the league have happened, where they look the business but still find Juventus very much a cut above. It’s been the case for particularly the past two seasons, as, despite their consistency, they remain second-best by a distance.
It’s the case in Europe as well. Napoli seem like entertainers and a very formidable side, but will narrowly miss out in the Champions League group stages, before falling short in the Europa League as well. These records are no mean feats for a side who are far from the biggest in Italy, either historically or financially, and a side that were in the second division 13 years ago.
But the Partenopei are a rising force in European football, and it’s not unreasonable to note that being nearly-men will become tiring. One of the biggest problems with Napoli in the past is folding in decisive moments, such as the chaotic run of results late in the 2017/18 league season, or the timid defeat in the final group game at Anfield last year, and there’s perhaps an issue of mettle with the side. Catching Juve is still a hard ask, but surely they’re due to make a better fist of things on the continent. Nearly might no longer be enough.
David Ospina has made his loan from Arsenal permanent, while Kostas Manolas has signed from Roma. Eljif Elmas arrives from Fenerbahce, Filippo Costa from SPAL, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo swaps Empoli for Naples.
Raul Albiol has left after six years at the club, returning to Spain, as he joins Villarreal. Roberto Insigne joins Benevento, while Amadou Diawara has left for Roma, and Marko Rog makes a temporary switch to Cagliari.
Napoli are a formidable side who aremanaged by an experienced tactician in Carlo Ancelotti, have been unlucky with Champions League draws, and continue to put up a fight with Juventus despite relatively inferior resources.
The Partenopei are a side whose season always look to have an expiry date, and may roll with the punches, but can’t seem to give mighty blows of their own.
The gaffer (Carlo Ancelotti)
The former Italian manager has pedigree, particularly in Europe, and will surely be looking to better last season’s achievements. Winning the league will be a mountainous task, but topping Juventus would be a personal delight.
How will they do
The top-four should be the minimum for Ancelotti’s side in Serie A, and another (ultimately vain) title challenge isn’t off the table.
Kunle Ajao126 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not