Football: 11 wins in a row, leader of Serie A, best attack in C1... We explain Napoli's thunderous start to the season

Football: 11 wins in a row, leader of Serie A, best attack in C1… We explain Napoli’s thunderous start to the season

They probably didn’t expect it themselves. By winning in Rome (0-1) on Sunday October 23, the Neapolitans consolidated their position as leaders of Serie A. Their nine successes in eleven games, embellished with a better attacking condition (26 goals) make them the hit of this beginning of the Italian season. It is even better in the Champions League, where Napoli have put up a flawless performance so far.

With four wins in the same number of games, the club is already qualified for the round of 16 with 17 goals scored (a record this season), four more than Bayern Munich, who are hot on their heels. He even offered cards against the finalist Liverpool (4-1) and Ajax (6-1). On Wednesday, the reception of Glasgow Rangers, who have already been shattered with 16 goals conceded in four games, should add to this total even more.

This canonical departure, which makes Napoli one of the three undefeated teams in the five major championships, along with PSG and Real Madrid, did not spring from the source. At the foot of Vesuvius, the summer was even volcanic for some of the tifosi with frantic passion. In question, Napoli lost many executives during the transfer window, including Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), Fabian Ruiz (Paris), Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto) or Dries Mertens (Galatasaray). The incorporations to compensate for these exits, for the most part unknown before this season, are already clear successes.

For a time courted by Rennes, the South Korean defender Kim Min-jae has already made the Senegalese rock Koulibaly forget. He is the boss of the fourth defense of La Botte, only beaten backhand nine times in Serie A. Offensively, Giovanni Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori give depth to a sector led by former Lillois Victor Osimhen, author of a splendid goal on Sunday by the night.

But the real revelation of this early season is Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Arrived in secret although crowned with a status of hope, the Georgian squanders his talent on the Italian lawns. His silky dribbling, his power and his multiple brilliant shots (8 goals, 7 assists in 15 games) have already earned him the nickname “Kvaradona” with an immediately won over audience. The slim left winger with his socks down was named the best player in Serie A in August. “And again, you haven’t seen anything! It’s even stronger in training”his teammate Osimhen had some fun on the DAZN mic recently.

“But not a single player wins. If Kim doesn’t win his duels, Lobotka and Anguissa are of no use to him, ‘Kvara’ gets two balls.”

Luciano Spalletti, Napoli manager

at a press conference

This perfectly oiled collective, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa is its symbol. Intermittent during his years in Marseilles (2015-18), the Cameroonian shines with his activity in the middle of the field. It is no coincidence that the -relative- lack of fluidity seen in Rome’s game on Sunday night coincided with his absence due to injury. He must be reinstated for the World Cup and will be one of the few members of the Neapolitan contingent in Qatar (with the Polish Zielinski or the Mexican Lozano).

Where rivals AC Milan, Inter or Juventus will send a host of players to the World Cup, Napoli are relatively spared from the phenomenon. Luciano Spalletti will be able to work calmly to maintain this form. The deal is far from obvious, however, as the Partenopei are accustomed to thunderous starts, before a winter low.

Last year he had already held the championship lead until December, before finishing third, seven points behind the Milanese champion. “A title is not won after eleven days but in June, at the end of the championship”, this is how Spalletti relativized after the success in Rome in a press conference. And the Tuscan continues: “We have no pretensions, we are going to eat panino on the train and tomorrow morning we will resume training”. In a Neapolitan context where the slightest spark can take on disproportionate proportions, minimizing such success can be a good recipe to win a Scudetto that has denied them since 1990.


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