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Pescara 2-2 Napoli: Penetrative Possession Almost Undoes Sarri’s Side

Newly promoted Pescara welcomed last season’s Serie A runners-up Napoli to the Stadio Adriatico on Sunday 21 August in the opening round of 2016-17 fixtures. The home side made a stunning start to their top-flight return, going 2-0 up in the first half thanks to goals from Ahmed Benali and Gianluca Caprari. However, they faded in the second half, with Dries Mertens scoring twice to earn Napoli a 2-2 draw. (more…)

An Analysis Of Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli

Napoli made a potentially historic decision last summer in hiring 57-year-old former banker Maurizio Sarri as head coach to fill the void left by Rafa Benitez, who departed for Real Madrid. Last season the club finished fifth in Serie A but currently they sit second, nine points behind reigning champions Juventus. For much of this season they looked capable of ending their long wait for a scudetto, which they have not won since 1990, though a recent loss of form appears to have put paid to that ambition. (more…)

2015/16 Scudetto Race: Napoli

Rafa Benitez was apoplectic. He had just watched his Napoli side draw 2-2 away to financially doomed, already relegated Parma. With just three league games left in the 2014/15 season, the result scuppered the club’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League through a top-three league position. The Spaniard received a one-match touchline ban for his post-match behaviour, where he was said to have screamed, “This is the shitty thing about Italian football”. (more…)

Coaches And Horses: The Sacchi/Sarri Commonality

Silvio Berlusconi had seen enough. For the second time in the 1986-87 season he had watched his AC Milan team lose to Parma, a club who had only recently been promoted to Serie B. After beating Milan into second place in the Coppa Italia group stage, Parma then kicked the Rossoneri out of the competition altogether having drawn them again in the first knockout round. For Berlusconi the whole episode was embarrassing. The Milanese business magnate had taken over the club to revitalise one of Italian football’s traditional behemoths; such miserable results simply were not part of his script. (more…)

Pre-Season Q&A: Napoli With Conor Dowley

We continue our pre-season Q&A series by discussing Napoli with Conor Dowley. The Partenopei are currently in transition following the departure of Rafa Benitez and appointment of Maurizio Sarri, so there was plenty to talk about. (more…)

Empoli 4-2 Napoli: A Retrospective Analysis

As Maurizio Sarri was recently appointed as Napoli coach, now feels like a good time to recall the day his Empoli side steamrollered the Partenopei, who were at that point still coached by Rafa Benitez. On 30 April 2015, Napoli travelled to Tuscany on the back of three straight wins as they chased a top-three Serie A position that would have earned them Champions League football for the 2015-16 season. They were confident but, as Sarri’s Empoli were to prove that day, extremely open. (more…)

Adapting To Circumstances: The Tactics Behind Calcio’s Revival

There was a rather curious romanticism surrounding Juventus’ Champions League progression as the 2014-15 season developed. Having thrashed Borussia Dortmund in the second round and held out against Monaco in the quarter-finals, the Bianconeri overcame Real Madrid in the last four, essentially becoming victorious underdogs. (more…)