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Monday March 11 2013
Napoli’s broken dreams

The Scudetto race may have taken a decisive twist with Napoli’s loss at Chievo. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the latest action.

Fatal Verona. The phrase was coined when Milan left a Scudetto aspiration or two at the Stadio Bentegodi. Those were against the Hellas side of the city, but Chievo showed they have a little bit of title-killer instinct in them too on Sunday – this time at Napoli’s expense.

It felt almost like an act of mercy, because Walter Mazzarri’s men have looked in trouble for a few weeks now. With Edinson Cavani in a chronic goal drought by his own awesome standards – and even passing up a penalty – they have been a shadow of themselves. Eugenio Corini’s side delivered what felt like a coup de grace.

Napoli appeared as if the pressure of being considered the only credible anti-Juve of the season had taken its toll. Their play lacked the style and flow which have been its hallmarks. They were superbly smothered by their survival-seeking opponents.

“It is the way things are going just now, we are creating a lot but not taking our chances,” insisted Neapolitan stalwart Christian Maggio. “We will study the situation during the week and try to sort it out. Our opponents won’t make it easy so we need to get competitive again.”

It might not have been so bad if news had not come through of a late winner for the Bianconeri. When others struggle, Antonio Conte’s men always seem to come up with the three points. Their nine-point advantage is not unassailable, but it looks like a pretty tough mountain for anyone to scale.

“Our goal today was to win so that we would have no regrets,” said Juve’s Gigi Buffon. “Seeing how things went in Verona it was an important Sunday and the three points against Catania are worth even more. But we need to keep our foot on the accelerator.”

Perhaps the only team on a form run which might have troubled the reigning champions, are Milan. The Rossoneri must be wondering how their season might have panned out if they had avoided such a disastrous start. Like a number of their opponents in recent weeks, Genoa could feel aggrieved about a few refereeing decisions at the weekend, but Max Allegri’s outfit now have a firm grip on third place – and maybe even an incredible runners-up spot in due course.

Indeed, Napoli’s slump has opened the door to more sides to harbour Champions League dreams. The latest team to take a leap forward were Fiorentina with a convincing win under the heavy rains of the Stadio Olimpico against Lazio. For once the Viola were both attractive and clinical. Goals from Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic sent them flying up the table.

A Florentine old boy, Alberto Gilardino, helped their forward progress as his strike for Bologna downed Inter at the San Siro. It completed a miserable week for the Nerazzurri after their humbling at White Hart Lane in the Europa League. It won’t be easy to turn things around.

“There are 10 games to go but things are not coming off for us just now,” said Andrea Stramaccioni.  “It is a bad spell for us but there are other teams having a hard time too. But we need to break this trend quickly.”

While it is easy to focus on the harm done to the big teams by their defeats, it is important not to lose sight of the important progress made by their conquerors. Both Bologna and Chievo made key moves towards Serie A salvation with the scalps of Inter and Napoli. The job is not quite done - but they are almost home and dry.

There were nice little triple goal treats for Cagliari and Parma too. Victor Ibarbo was the hat-trick hero for the Rossoblu in a behind-closed-doors clash with Sampdoria as the long-running Is Arenas saga in Sardinia drags on. More surprising, to most, was an Amauri tripletta for the boys from the Tardini as they came from behind to steamroller Torino.

Genoa look like the last side who might get dragged into the relegation battle as in the lower reaches it was Siena who made the most significant move. Their head-to-head victory over Palermo gave them a sniff of safety while making the Sicilians’ fate seem all the more miserable. The Tuscan minnows are performing, in their own way, like the more famous side in black and white currently heading towards another title.

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Have your say...
Napoli know they cannot win the league as much as we can dream abot it. Only the media is saying Napoli is the anti-juve. Napoli's goal was to reach the champions league and do better than last year. So far they ae doing that despite a few recent problems. Getting to the champions league means you can keep good players and attract top quality ones. Forza Napoli!
on the 13th March, 2013 at 1:24pm
Napoli could win scudetto, but not this season maybe 3 thousand years again. lol. If there is no Juventus, I would prefer Viola win this race.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 11:55am
@ Interista_nz

I wonder why you wanted Napoli to win the Scudetto? It would be good for Italian football if Napoli every beat your foreign legion to the title. Remind me how many Italians play for your lot...2, 3? Juventus have Italian DNA running through every aspect of the club. If it was left up to your mob to furnish the Italian national side the Azzurri would probably have only one star on their shirts and not the four that Juventus players have played a massive part of achieving.
on the 13th March, 2013 at 5:09am
Napoli peaked when they smashed Chelsea in that first leg of the CL. A great moment for the club. But that moment is fading. They need to inject the team with quality defenders. Insigne looks great but what will they do when Cavani goes? They need to follow Fiorentina's example of smart buying for the future. Rossi is there to replace Jojo.
on the 12th March, 2013 at 4:05pm
Maradonamac10, no, the people who are blind to Mazzarri's many flaws, are the ones that lack intellect, & the ability to view matters objectively & dispassionately. Here are just some of them: poor at developing young players, & lacking the courage to play them; tactically naive & one-dimensional; short-sighted attitude towards the Europa league; keeping faith with the error prone De Sanctis; far too 'openly' nervous-I am convinced that this transmits its way to the players.
on the 12th March, 2013 at 3:00pm
I THINK JUVEMNTUS is the best team in Italy or one of the best in the worl. Napoli. If they want to be Unti JUVE. Most change coach and some players. Remember last two years juventus beat us like a beaches
on the 12th March, 2013 at 12:34am
It's a shame Napoli have dropped off from winning the Scudetto this season , it would have been brilliant for Serie A and Italian Calcio if they had won instead of Juve. Maybe next season ?
on the 11th March, 2013 at 7:58pm
Napoli are not that good of a team - they are overly dependant on Cavani and it's no coinicidence their luck dried up when Cavani stopped scoring.
This is why labeling Napoli as the "anti-Juve" was one of the biggest scams/sensationalism the papers could've ever drawn up.
The real "anti-Juve" thankfully started the year terribly (Milan) but within a couple of weeks they'll be in 2nd and looking at Napoli in their rearview mirror.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 7:43pm
People asking for Mazzarri to leave are not very intelligent. Since he's taken over, the club have been on the rise each season. Not since the days of Maradona have the club looked this good.

Mazzarri deserves all the time he needs to build a championship winning team. Napoli are not there yet, but give it time.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 7:07pm
Napoli can not run a back 3 without cannavaro. Plain and simple. Mazzarri needs to leave. He doesnt want to move away from his old ways. #mazzarriout
on the 11th March, 2013 at 5:21pm
For a napoli fan the problem with napoli the squad is not big enough, same time last year they ran out steam and looked tired and they need some better than Pandev to take some pressure of Cavani. If were going to win the title we need to buy a better forward to surport Cavani and inprove the midfield and defence
on the 11th March, 2013 at 3:49pm
Napoli are in a mini-slump but will get out of it soon. They have the quality, but could use another top striker to partner Cavani.
If you watch the games closely, Napoli certainly don't have much luck on their side just now, but will qualify for champions league at season's end.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 3:32pm
I agree with most comments shame Lazio and Napoli have appeared to run out of gas, Shame to think how bad Milan were before xmas now they could finish 2nd? I only see Juve at the top for next few years as they seem to be able to spend on players of quality. Fiorentina could rival them as they are not afraid to buy but they need to keep Jovetic add more quailty in the squad as Napoli and Lazio have found out a good 11/ 12 players is not enough.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 2:42pm
MY BELOVED NAPOLI WE(TIFOSA) STICK BEHIND U TILL THE END NO MATTER WHAT. NAPULA THROUGH AND THROUGH.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 2:42pm
God It really hurts but we have to except the fact and put the scude dreams aside and lock up second in the table and a spot in europe. Mazzarri trying to justify for a 2-0 loss to chievo come on. Whatever I can point out all that went wrong for us this year but it doesnt matter we are where we are in 2nd, and the goal its to now finish as strong as possible with pride and determination. Were not far away some changes 2014 will be stronger ready to make a better run for the scudetto.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 2:34pm
Not sure why it would be great for Napoli to win, surely the strongest team in Serie A should win and we all know who that is. We keep hearing this Napoli is the 'anti-juve' etc but when it comes down to detail they simply have nowhere near Juves strength, only Meelan can possibly match them. The best thing for Serie A is to have a team that can compete against the Bayerns, Utds, Reals and Barcas, thats NOT Napoli. Oh and great to see Inter back where they belong! I hope Lazio can nip 3rd!
on the 11th March, 2013 at 2:10pm
Shame really, would be good for Serie A and Italian football if Napoli could win. Looks highly unlikely now and Napoli would do well to hold onto 2nd.

Inter are in freefall. Lazio could target Europa League and are a decent shout for reaching the final.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 1:18pm
It is a pity about Napoli. I would loved to have seen a southern side win the title. It would have been healthy for the competition. Personally I feel that Mazzarri should leave in the summer. I get so tired of his excuses, & childish behaviour-threatening to quit all the time. Dellio Rossi would have been good for Napoli. Whilst I also rate Pioli at Bologna.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 12:28pm
I thought Napoli would not have the consistency to keep up, just like Lazio. They need some better defenders. Probably Milan will take 2nd, and Napoli will have to watch out for Fiorentina. So great to see Inter suffer. Napoli should of tried abit harder for the Europa league, would have been nice to have more Italian teams in final rounds, so we could at least try to get 4 places for champions league. Nevertheless when Napoli are on form they are cracking to watch. Abit like Zeman's crazy Roma.
on the 11th March, 2013 at 12:25pm

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