• Analysis

Battle of the maligned: Napoli vs Atletico Madrid

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Despite laying claim to impressive rosters in their respective leagues, along with the best managers in world football, both Napoli and Atletico are performing below expectations.

A title challenge from both Napoli or Atletico Madrid was given at the start of 2019/20 season. After falling short of the eventual champions, they were supposed to be in the running for it again.

It was an expectation that was compounded by their transfer market business. Their rosters were supplemented by fresh faces, depth was added and a sustained assault on the league title was a given.

However, both clubs have failed to perform at par. With their world famous managers looking for answers.

Atletico Madrid’s issues in attack

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have floundered spectacularly. They were at the top of La Liga standings after the first three rounds. Back to back wins against Getafe, Laganes and Eibar propelled them to the top of points table.

Los Rojiblancos have not managed a similar run since. They have lost only two games but failed to get over the line against the competition. Their eight draws is joint most in Spanish top flight football along with Osasuna.

This poor run of form has cost them a top-four position. As the season progresses teams find their footing but Atletico have regressed. While their defense has remained in tact, at the root of their problems is inability to score. The Capital club have only managed 16 goals, the same as relegation threatened Mollorca.

Alvaro Morata, Joao Felix and Diego Costa had the responsibility to replace the numbers lost by the departure of Antoine Griezmann. The trio have failed spectacularly. Only Morata has scored five goals, while Costa and Felix only have two apiece against their names.

Napoli’s porous defending and profligate attack

A similar trend is being followed at Napoli. Just like Atletico, the Partenopei are also struggling in seventh place. Their four wins from six games saw them in the running for the title but it has gone downhill since.

Napoli have gone on a dismal run since. Only a single win has come in their last 9 league outings, so have six draws. In all competitions they are winless in nine competitive outings. And like Atletico Madrid, their problems are rooted in the attacking department.

Arkadiusz Milik is top scorer with five goals against his name. He has missed the majority of the season for Napoli, starting 5 and appearing from the bench once.

Dries Mertens, Fernando Llorente and Lorenzo Insigne all have 13+ appearances against their names, but have not scored more than 4 goals apiece. New signing, Hirving Lozano, is still adjusting to the league and has two against his name.

While goals have come, more than what Simeone can say for his team, Napoli have been porous at the back. In two of their last three fixtures, Carlo Ancelotti’s men took the lead but allowed the opposition a route back into the game.

While both Atletico Madrid and Napoli are stranded in 7th place, it is the latter who are suffering more. Problems in the front have been compounded by issues at the back.