• Our Opinion

Losses, draws and forced training camps: Napoli at crossroads

Lorenzo Insigne
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Napoli have been Serie A’s only hope of finishing Juventus’ stranglehold but are struggling to find their footing in 2019/20 season.

While the flames of AS Roma, Inter Milan and AC Milan burnt out as Juventus recorded one Serie A title after another to their trophy cabinet, only Napoli have put up resistance.

However, twelve matches in to the 2019/20 Serie A season, the Blues seem to have run out of steam with the Old Lady now being managed by former manager Maurizio Sarri. Napoli are sixth in Serie A, 11 points adrift of Juventus and have failed to win any of their last three league games.

Despite being blighted by injuries to their strike force, the Blues have managed to hit the back of the net. Since the start of the league campaign, Napoli have scored two or more goals in seven matches.

However, it has been their defense which has failed to hold their end of the campaign. The team has managed just two clean sheets in 12 matches, with only one coming in their 2-0 victory against Sampdoria while the other coming in their 0-0 draw away against Torino.

Such is the plight of the Neapolitans that President Aurelio De Laurentiis placed the team in ‘ritiro’ for their final two games (against Red Bull Salzburg and Genoa) before the international break.

Ritiro is simply when a team is confined to their training camp. The practice is an old knee-jerk reaction in Italy to poor performances and has found its way out of fashion.

“The squad will be in ritiro until Sunday morning, when some of the players will leave to go with their national teams,” De Laurentiis said while talking on Radio Kiss Kiss.

“The ritiro is not a punishment, but an opportunity for the players to get to know each other better,” he added.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti voiced his disagreement with the ritiro decision but admitted that given the circumstances he will go along with it.

“The club has taken this decision and we have to accept it. But, if you ask me if I agree, I would say no,” Ancelotti told reporters, adding that Napoli had run out of luck in their last week games.

“The results haven’t happened in this period, we have kept hitting the woodwork and we have paid a high price for some situations,” he said.

In their next match, Napoli host RB Salzburg and high flying striker Erling Braut Haaland in the UEFA Champions League. The Partenopei are Group E leaders and need a victory against the Austrians to cement their passage to the knockout stages.

Despite their troubles in Serie A, Ancelotti is confident of his team’s chances in UEFA Champions League.

“We’ve handled the Champions League well so far, let’s hope it continues,” he said. “The first aim is to get through the group, if we can do that with two games to spare, that would be great. I expect a change in fortunes, I’m confident,” Ancelotti commented.

With 17th placed Genoa making the trip to San Paolo on Sunday, Napoli have the chance to get out of the rut they find themselves in. The southern club have more in their tanks to overcome the visitors who have managed a single point from their five trips.