Finally… We couldn’t take it any longer. 3 long months without football. It’s finally over! Tomorrow the Serie A starts again! Napoli will play against Bologna which has been always a difficult client in the last few years. It will be the first time for Rafa Benitez at San Paolo. Napoli will play with the 4-2-3-1 with Pepe Reina in goal. On the wings Maggio and Zuniga. The defensive line should be completed byAlbiol and Britos. At midfield Ilner will be Behrami’s partner. Higuain will be the main striker supported by Hamsik in the middle, Callejon on the right and almost certainly Goran Pandev on the left. Cannavaro is then out for the first match of the year and so should be Insigne as he wasn’t well for the last few days. The race for the Scudetto is about to begin…
Lots of things have changed during summer: Cavani and Mazzarri left and Hguain and Benitez took their places. There is though an even bigger problem that stays unsolved: The stadium. Owner De Laurentiis announced a while back that if the Major De Magistris wouldn’t sell the San Paolo to the SSC Napoli
the Club would build a brand new stadium in Caserta. That would be a catastrophe… Neapolitan are emotional attached to the San Paolo. It is Diego Armando Maradona stadium!!! The Club needs to own the stadium in order to compete in Europe. If the Major doesn’t want to sell the San Paolo, De Laurentiis should atleast try to build a new one in Napoli instead of Caserta. San Paolo will always be a Temple for all Neapolitans, but is now time to step up and write history again, it is now time to build a new Arena!!!
There are only few pieces left to complete the puzzle and Bigon with the Scouting team is at work to finish the job. Rafa Benitez is after a player who can replace Gonzalo Higuain or playing with him as well as midfielder and a defender. As most of papers say, Jackson Martinez is on top of the striker list. He could play as main striker when Higuain is not available and also behind him on the right side. I think Bigon is actually trying to sign Alexi Sanchez instead! He can do exactly the same things, already played in the Italian league and the price would be around 20 millions of Euro. For the midfield, Benitez’s dream is Javier Mascherano. The cost is affordable (20 Millions) but his wage is quite high ( Around 5 Millions per year). It is just a dream at the moment which quite unlikely will become true. As far as the defender concern, papers are saying that Napoli and Liverpool are very close to seal the deal which will see Skrtel at San Paolo next season. Again, I don’t think this is the case. I believe Bigon’s real goal is to sign Davide Astori! With these players Napoli would be extremely competitive in Italy and could reach the last 8 in the Champions League which is Napoli objective anyhow.
The first few tests for Napoli have highlighted some very important aspects. Napoli seems to have the confidence of a big team which lacked at some stage last season. Napoli is still deadly on the counter attack but also likes to keep control of the ball rather than waiting the opponents. On the other side we have seen some old problem such as the defence. The passage from 3 central back to a line of 4 will need lots of work but I believe Benitez will succeed. The athletic condition is not the best at the moment but we know that is normal at this stage of the season. Lots of people are concerned about the new way of work but the Spaniard have been doing it for years and if Liverpool have reached the Champions League final twice under Rafa we shouldn’t be worried about it. Gonzalo Higuain seems to be out of shape at the moment but I believe that he will be ready for the beginning of the League. The expectations are quite high and Benitez seems to be the right man to meet them!
Lots of things have happened in the last few weeks. Napoli finally qualified for the Champions League winning a perfect match agains Bologna, then won again against Siena and lost the last match against Roma. Walter Mazzari left Napoli after the last match with an official statement and later in the week he signed with Inter Milan taking with him all his staff and also Giuseppe Santoro who had been with Napoli since president Aurelio De Laurentiis took over in 2004.The owner then decided to put in charge an international manager capable to win in three different countries: Rafa Benitez. He is now building his new Napoli with Bigon and his scouting team. Some of the players he is after seem to be unreachable but Aurelio De Laurentiis seems to be willing to take the last step to fill the gap with Juventus and to perform well in the Champions League.
It has been Cavani’s match. With his eighth hat trick with Napoli‘s shirt has annihilated Inter Milan. Walter Mazzarri has deployed his usual line up except for Hugo Campagnaro due to calf problem. On the other side, Andrea Stamaccioni had to waive to Tommaso Rocchi too at the very last minute therefore Inter Milan started the match with no recognised striker. It only took three minutes to Napoli to take the lead. Blerim Dzemaili gives a good ball to Goran Pandev, who passes a ball through Edinson Cavani in the box and leaves Samir Handanovic stunned. Inter Milan tried to react straight away, but Fredy Guarin free kick was parried by Morgan De Sanctis and Juan Jesus wasted the opportunity to score firing the rebound over. Napoli at this point started to create opportunity one after the other and came close to double the lead with Edinson Cavani, whose shot just missed the target. Inter Milan seemed dazed and confused but a naivete of Camilo Zuniga gave the chance to come bake in the match. Ricky Alvarez who formed with Fredy Guarin a makeshift strike force, was pushed in the box and gained a penalty. He went to the penalty spot and beat Morgan De Sanctis who managed to deflect but without any luck. People who believed that at this point a new match was about to start were soon disappointed as Napoli took the lead again soon after. A bumbling challenge by Jonatan On Zuniga was awarded with the penalty. Cavani stepped up to blast his 100th goal with Napoli’s shirt leaving Handanovic stunned for the second time. In the second half Inter Milan never gave the impression to be able to get back in the match. On the other side Napoli tried to score the third goal to secure the victory. Napoli went close to score again with Marek Hamsik but his shot was blocked in the penalty area and with Blerim Dzemaili, whose shot from outside the box found Samir Handanovic ready. Then a great play on the left side, Pablo Armero served Camilo Zuniga who touched to Goran Pandev and straight after to Cavani in the box but his shot whistle past the post. On 77′ Napoli scored his third goal. Valon Behrami retrieves a ball and gave the start to the lethal counter attack. Cavani passed deep to Panved who crossed in the penalty area and found Cavani on the other side who swept in for the final 3-1. Now the second place is very very close. If Napoli didn’t have that flexure during February we could have fought for the Scudetto. Hats off to Juventus who deserved to win the title.
It is last chance for Inter Milan to gain access to the next Europa League. Napoli though, have no intention of stopping and want to secure their position on the table. Walter Mazzarri knowns that there is the risk of underestimate Inter Milan as many of their key players are injured. This shouldn’t be a problem as Mazzarri and his team are not only after the access to the Champions League, but they also want to beat the records of points, victories and away victories in a season. Napoli’s line up should be De Sanctis in goal and the defence line with Gamberini to replace Hugo Campagnaro, with Paolo Cannavaro central back and Miguel Britos on the left. Valon Behrami should take his place back to protect the defenders with Marek Hamsik and Blerim Dzemaili few meters ahead. No surprises on the wings where Mazzarri should deploy Camilo Zuniga and Christian Maggio. On the front line Goran Pandev should be Edinson Cavani‘s partner. Andrea Stramaccioni needs to do otherwise of half squad, as there are 13 injured players. He should deploy Handanovic in goal. The defence line should be with Andre Ranocchia on the right, Christian Chivu as central back and Juan Jesus on the left. At midfield Stramaccioni should array the promising Marco Benassi, Mateo Kovacic and Zdravko Kuzmanović, with Jonathan and Alvaro Pereira as wingers. At the front line Ricardo Alvarez should support Tommaso Rocchi.