Napoli won their last Serie A title in the 1989-90 season. Diego Maradona led the Partenopei to their second Serie A title that season. Almost after 52 years, they are heading toward their 3rd Serie A title. Luciano Spalletti joined Napoli in May 2021 and helped Napoli to finish 3rd in the League. Napoli struggled to finish in the top 4 under Gattuso in the 2020-21 season. Spalleti got the time and players he deserves. Napoli sold the deadwoods and signed players and brought young talents on loan to strengthen the squad. No big transfer fees had to be paid by them but still, Spalletti got the players for his system.
System of Napoli under Luciano Spalletti:
Luciano Spalletti has worked wonders since arriving on the scene of Napoli in 2021. The Italian manager helped Napoli to a third-place finish last season and now preparing for their title charge in 2023. Gli Azzurri currently sits thirteen points clear atop the table and has more than double the points of Serie A’s historical dominator – Juventus. If Spalletti can continue to get his tactics right and maintain the positive culture he’s built since arriving, Napoli will walk away with the title this year.
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Napoli has operated in a 4-3-3 system throughout the campaign. Spalletti often changes this into more of a 4-1-4-1, (as 4-3-3 systems often do!). Throughout the phases, these two compilations of shapes remain fairly consistent, with players holding roles that remain in the ordinal realms of modern-day football. There are no complex variations to their play, and in fact, they are fairly rigid.
Spalletti stated, “Systems no longer exist in football, it’s all about the spaces left by the opposition. You must be quick to spot them and know the right moment to strike, have the courage to start the move even when pressed…”
Many took this to mean that Napoli don’t play in a rigid system of play but that is not exactly the case. They are well-structured & coordinated. They always follow their system of play except in some matches when they have to adapt as the situation wants. Players like Stanislav Lobotka, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo can find spaces, operate in the channels, and evolute themselves according to the situation.
Style of Play & Key Players:
Napoli have dominated both in the league and also in the UCL. In 20 matches of Serie A, they scored 48 goals and conceded only 15 goals. Spalletti’s team dominated the Champions League by scoring 20 goals in six matches. They have conceded only 6 goals and qualified for the Round of 16 by sitting at the top of their group table.
It all starts at the back end of the pitch. They remain patient in progressing the ball. Napoli is never afraid to use their goalkeeper and pass the ball backward, ensuring they’re keeping possession and looking for the right time to go forward. The key to their success in possession is through close combinations, that often form into diamonds and triangles, creating 45-degree optimal angles for support.
When Napoli lost Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens this past summer, it was hard to imagine where the creativity and goals would come from for Napoli. Even harder to imagine that a 21-year-old from Georgia could possibly be the answer. Napoli were linked with Khvicha since the start of 2022. His close control and dribbling were comparable to some of the best in the world, scoring incredible goals with both feet and having an overall ability to make things happen with the ball at his feet. Napoli kicked off their Serie A campaign against Hellas Verona. Kvicha started on the left of the front 3. The Georgian fit right in and made a huge impact on his debut. A goal and an assist to go with an almost-perfect performance sent a clear message to the entire league that he and Napoli are going to be very dangerous this season.
Victor Osimhen is a perfect example of a modern and strong striker (9) who has a strong eye for goal. He is direct and is pretty good with his hold-up and linkup play. He frequently looks to attack and create spaces. Osimhen can receive the ball well with his back to the goal, has a good first touch, and often times his runs perfectly. He is also a really good presser, useful in pinning back defenders and intercepting passes in the opponent’s third. His pace is one of the deadliest parts of his game, especially in transitions as it allows him to get ahead of his opponents.
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa:
Anguissa is an energetic midfielder who is a pressing machine. With his physique, he is able to perform his defensive duties with greater ease. Apart from his defensive skills, Anguissa is also good on the ball as he has the ability to keep it by using his outstanding dribbling skills and height to shield it. He is also capable of carrying the ball for certain distances.
Anguissa’s role in Spalletti’s team is that of a box-to-box midfielder. He is allowed to move forward and participate in the attacks, be in counter-attacks or attacks with a solid build-up, while he is also responsible for the defense, especially on the right side of the pitch.
Ball retention and ball progression are the 25-year-old’s main strengths on the ball. Anguissa combines his quick feet, dribbling skills, and physicality that allow him to keep the ball in tight spaces or get out of them.
In build-up play, Anguissa is able to win the ball as he knows how to hold it and beat his opponent when under pressure. He is also able to help his team by keeping the ball under pressure in highly intense games. In the progressive play, Anguissa can be used as a route, as he can carry the ball for long distances and sometimes influence play in the final third.
Napoli will play against Spezia in the Serie A on 5th February & Frankfurt on 22nd February in the Champions League Round Of 16.