Like the Bundesliga, and to a degree La Liga, Serie A has been a league which has been run by dominance of one particular club: Juventus. Juve have dominated the league for a good part of the past decade as they have won the Scudetto for six years running and have enjoyed premier success in the Champions League as well. This past decade has also seen the dramatic drop in form by both Inter and AC Milan. The two former European giants aren’t the same clubs they were back in the 2000’s or the years before that.
Combine the drop from both along with the rise of Juventus after the infamous Calciopoli scandal and you have seen a league run by the Bianconeri. But this season seems different. There seems to be a tide turning in Italian football and the waves are being caused by a club in Naples.
Expectations for Napoli winning Serie A weren’t even being discussed much less being a possibility. Even with Napoli’s quality attackers up top, they were still feeling the effects of losing a player like Gonzalo Higuain. The effects were ramified given he left for Juventus and the feeling was Italian soccer was in for another repeat year. Especially after seeing a season where Juventus won the Italian double for a second year in a row (Serie A and Coppa Italia) and finished runners up in the Champions League, losing in the final to Real Madrid. But this season has seen the official re-birth of Partenopei, one which many didn’t see coming.
Napoli have gotten off to a fantastic start in terms of the Serie A title race. They are currently at 54 points after 21 matches, winning 17 and losing just 1. Ironically, the lone loss came against Juventus on December 1st with Higuain scoring the winning goal. Napoli have seemed to have gotten past the key defeat as they have suffered only one loss in all competitions since then, which was a loss to Atalanta in the Coppa Italia quarter-final.
Headlined by the trio of Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, and Lorenzo Insigne, Napoli have a speedy attack force which has seen them score 45 goals in league play this season, third highest in Serie A. Mertens has been the main leader for Napoli’s offense, scoring 13 goals for them in all competitions. Callejon and Insigne have been solid complimentary options, scoring 6 and 5 goals respectively. All three players have the pace to catch defenders off guard on the counter and the creativity to create goal scoring chances out of nothing. Behind this trio of players and a steady midfield, Napoli are able to quickly flip defensive possessions into offensive. Using Insigne and Callejon as do-it-all wingers, Napoli are able to funnel the ball to them after winning it back and it’s off to the races. With a flurry of through balls or over top balls behind the opposing centre backs or to the wings, Napoli have formed a very fun attacking side.