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Friday September 28 2012
No counteracting Cavani

With their improved squad, lack of distractions and phenomenon of a centre-forward, Scott Fleming says it is little wonder Napoli are being branded the 'anti-Juve'.

“We'll see who can fight Juventus.” So said Lazio Coach Vladimir Petkovic on Tuesday, describing his side's visit to Napoli as if it were an eliminator bout for a world title shot.

He also stressed that both sides would “continue to fight for the top positions whatever the result,” but if the following night's match had been a boxing contest, Napoli would have been the fighter climbing on to the top rope and soaking up the audience's adoration at the end, whilst Lazio lay bloodied, bruised and dazed on the canvas.

Would it have ended differently if Miroslav Klose hadn't fessed up to slapping the ball into the net in the fourth minute? Probably not. Not with Napoli in this kind of shape. Edinson Cavani rattled in a hat-trick of typically emphatic strikes to make it 3-0 with half an hour still to play at the Stadio San Paolo, and if their finishing had been a touch sharper, the Vesuviani would have won by five or six.

“This Napoli, without doubt, is the anti-Juve,” read the opening line of the Gazzetta dello Sport's match report, and even at this very early stage, it's hard to disagree. Survey the Serie A standings and you'll see the two clubs sat side by side at the summit with exactly identical records, already four points clear of Inter and Lazio, five ahead of Roma and seven in front of Milan.

One by one the obstructions which prevented the Partenopei being viable Scudetto contenders in the past have been removed. The Champions League, which took up all their energy and focus last season, is no longer an issue. Nor is squad depth, a point illustrated by them being able to summon not one but two speedy, skilful and hungry young forwards, in the form of Lorenzo Insigne and Eduardo Vargas, from the bench against Lazio. How Aquile centre-backs Michael Ciani and Andre Dias – already ran ragged by Cavani and Co – must have groaned internally.

Walter Mazzarri's squad is now so strong that he could afford to drop his entire first XI for the Europa League opener against AIK Solna last week, and still run out 4-0 winners. “If I'm not mistaken, we've always scored two or three goals regardless of the tactical structure of the opposing team,” mused the former Sampdoria boss when deconstructing Sunday's frustrating goalless draw with 10 man Catania. And he wasn't mistaken.

That aberration in Sicily and the Super Cup defeat to Juventus aside, Napoli have blown every opponent they've faced this season out of the water.

In terms of their tactics and formation, little has changed, but just because you know what they're going to do doesn't mean you can stop them doing it. There can little doubt either, that the Marek Hamsik-Goran Pandev-Cavani triad is the best front line in Italy at present.

Hamsik is looking sharper than his famous Mohican, Pandev's transition from bit part player to fully fledged member of the three tenors has been seamless, and Cavani? The standing ovation he was given by the San Paolo crowd as he stood with his head in his hands, ruing a missed penalty on Wednesday, told you everything you need to know about him.

El Matador now has 99 Serie A goals, 72 Napoli goals, and tops this season’s Capocannoniere charts with five to his name already. So perhaps the question shouldn't be are Napoli the anti-Juve? Perhaps it should be – is there such a thing as the anti-Cavani?

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Have your say...
Napoli are the only hope of a title battle this season, because Juve are a streets ahead of the rest of Serie A as demonstrated against Roma.
on the 29th September, 2012 at 11:48pm
i think he means Amauri is as bad as Cavani is good
on the 29th September, 2012 at 9:11pm
Napoli have a great chance no doubt! whilst Juve' are a very impressive team, I still have concerns about their attack. This is not necessarily down to the strikers, but more, the system. There are many times when Vidal, Marchisio, & Pirlo are too deep, leaving a huge gap between them and the strikers. One solution could be to drop Giovinco 10 yards back into the pocket. Another could be to push Pirlo in front of M & P, after all Bonucci often steps forward to make the plays from the back.
on the 29th September, 2012 at 8:44am
best striker in the serie A
on the 28th September, 2012 at 11:49pm
Amauri...are you on something? Napoli will not struggle this season home or away and even if Cavani gets injured there are plenty of attackers to take his place as the service to the attackers whoever they are is awesome. Most teams are afraid of Juventus but I bet they are not looking forward to playing Napoli...Forza Napoli
on the 28th September, 2012 at 7:48pm
I am a big Juventino but Napoli are impressive this season. I root for them because their fans are great. I actually cried when they were eliminated by Chelsea last season becuase they represented Italian Fottball well last year in the CL. This year, Juve are in the Cl and it will be tough. Napoli is by far the best team other than Juve. I will comment back on this in a few weeks because it will be clearer. Mazzari great coach though.
on the 28th September, 2012 at 7:05pm
forza napoli..u can do it napolitano!!!
on the 28th September, 2012 at 5:20pm
Amauri! Are you on something! Napoli has a great team and even if Cavani is injured whoever plays in his place will get great service to score a lot too. Hopefully we will win something this year to keep thye momentum going. Forza Napoli.
on the 28th September, 2012 at 5:17pm
Cavani is a top player will easily finish top goal scorer this season,Juve lack a player with his abilities and goal threat
on the 28th September, 2012 at 3:38pm
Napoli will qualify for the champions league at the minimum. I believe Juve will eventually win the scuedetto, but Napoli will push them all the way.
on the 28th September, 2012 at 2:06pm
75 goals a season?..... Really
on the 28th September, 2012 at 1:37pm
I haven't laughed so much in ages. Amauri? That is like comparing a hot dog to caviar!!!! Cavani is the ultimate modern day centre-forward and can only be compared with the likes of Radamel Falcao. Imagine if Cavani was playing for Real Madrid instead of a wasteful Higuain. With service like that he would probably score 75 goals in a season.
on the 28th September, 2012 at 11:22am
1. Napoli will struggle in away games.
2. When Cavani will get injured or tired there will be no Napoli
3. 3-rd place is max for Napoli
on the 28th September, 2012 at 11:04am
There is an anti-Cavani. His name is Amauri.
on the 28th September, 2012 at 10:43am

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