As featured on NewsNow: Football news

Italian view from Giulianelli: Why Juventus were destined to supplant Napoli at the pinnacle of Serie A

No alarms and no surprises. The famous refrain by Radiohead, published in the album OK Computer in 1997, describes very well the feeling of the Italian audience about the fact that Juventus overtook Napoli at the top of Serie A last Sunday.

It's like everyone of us, in our hearts, had always thought, or felt, that even this year the Vecchia Signora (the Old Lady, as we traditionally name Juventus) would have win the title, for the seventh time in a row.

Something subconscious, something that's inside us, that we try to hide, that we try to drown with rational thoughts, with mathematical and theoretical lucubration's, just to try not to see what's clear and vivid in front of us: that Juventus is the strongest team in Italy. Full stop. Simple and easy, like kicking a ball on the narrow alleys of Naples for two or three young lads.

But let's talk a bit about Napoli and their current management.

They have done very well for all the first half of the season, they have become "Winter champions" (A Platonic title invented to label the team that arrives at the end of the first half of the Serie A at the top of the table), challenging head to head, point to point, against Manchester City for the best performances among all the top European leagues.

Sarri's team played like a perfect mechanism, like a watch where every gearwheel rotates in precise and synchronous harmony; the invention of Dries Mertens, born last year after the bad injury occurred to Arkadiusz Milik, as a sort of atypical centre forward (but please don't call him falso nueve, or he will get angry, as he has revealed in an interview!) has given Napoli many new solutions on the attacking line and gave to them a big amount of goals scored.

The moves of the Belgian forward complemented each other with Insigne and Callejon's style of playing and gained Napoli another virtual title, the best playing style, the best quality football in Serie A and one of the best in Europe.

And what did Juventus do while Napoli was winning and winning? They were doing their football, they were playing on three competitions with the same intensity, the same involvement and the same willing to win.

They had to measure out their energies very well, in order to be really competitive in Serie A, in Champions League and even in Coppa Italia: because, if you have a winning mentality you always want to win and you want to win everything.

A winner never leaves a competition apart, never underrate a cup or a league in order to prefer another one: they haven't been at the top of the Serie A from the beginning because Allegri had planned a very long and hard season, so he couldn't take the risk to start with a twitch with the risk of finding his teamout of energy in the middle of the season.

Dosing the strength, manage at the best a big squad, with many important players, knowing well how to put some of them on the bench without creating any unrest or animosity, creating a mentality where what's important for everyone of them is not if they play or not but that the Juventus wins. This is a winning mentality.

So they didn't have to do more than playing their football and waiting. Waiting the moment when Napoli would have given up some points: it was in the order of the universe that this should have happened.

Because the mistakes made by Sarri were basically two.

The first one has been his confidence only on the same players: he usually lines up almost the same eleven, with the inabilityto obviate the unavoidable moments of drop that everyone could have during a long season; and the aspect related to this is that the so called second lines didn't do so well when they have been called on the pitch, because they've not been used to playing and to be involved in a precise mechanism that needs time to be integrated in.

The second mistake has been to underrate the other competitions in order to make an all in to the Serie A: he should have done really better in Coppa Italia and Europa League, when Napoli was eliminated from the Champions League group, instead of lining up a starting eleven full of players that never have played together before against a very strong opponent like Leipzig.

And now? At two months from the end of the season in Serie A, Juventus is at the top of the table, in final of Coppa Italia and in the quarter finals of Champions League, with still all the opportunities open to win in every competitions, while Napoli is second in Serie A and out of the other cups. But with the platonic title of the best football in their pockets.

Have your say

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free