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Napoli - Operation Domination

Started on 9 April 2014 by Aaron
Latest Reply on 13 August 2014 by Walter
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Conte Bites Back

Cesar Prandelli told La Gazetta that Roberto Baggio's team, Napoli would "Choke under the pressure" in this years fight for the title. Presumably, to get at Baggio with mind games in an attempt to distract Baggio.

Prandelli's comments seem to have attracted the wrong attention, as Baggio has so far kept quiet after the Juventus bosses comments. Instead, his statement has attracted the attention of former Juve and current Italy boss Antonio Conte, who has labelled Prandelli as "A stupid man" in his latest press conference.

This is the interview Conte gave to us, in full. He is not a happy man!

Conte: "I don't think Prandelli realizes, but his team is already just as good as Napoli's. I made that team capable of winning the league, and they are capable of winning the league. I won the league with it myself.

He claims he has made improvements to the squad, no. He has made additions. Completely different. His new signings have not been improvements, they have honestly added nothing to the team. He already had everything he needed when he took over.

I find it quite personal actually, he seems to think my team "Wasn't good enough to win the league" ...Is he stupid? I thought he was a smart man once upon a time, but now I am not so sure.

He's a stupid man. I won the league with the very same squad he was left with, and they "weren't strong enough"? Are you kidding? I'm glad I'm the manager of our country now because with him in charge, we surely have no hope.

Juventus, simply haven't won the league because he isn't good enough to manage them. The board made a mistake in hiring him. If you can't cope with managing the nation, you won't cope with managing one of the biggest clubs in the nation. In my opinion.

If I was to predict the 1st placed club come the end of the season. It would be Napoli. They have a strong squad. Very strong. And an extremely good manager in Baggio. I agree with him not wanting to sign anyone too. His squad is big enough and good enough.

In fact, that's another thing. What the hell is Prandelli doing telling you all Baggio won't get anywhere without additions to his team? He should stick to managing his own team, it's a joke, and I find it really unprofessional. I feel sorry for Roberto, I think he has been disrespected here. Prandelli has no right saying things like that.

Anyway, that's enough from me. I've said my piece.

Well, Conte is certainly one unhappy man. What we wonder, is whether this spat will end, or whether we'll see a reply from Prandelli. Or could we even see Baggio make a statement?
Whatever happens, we don't see this war of words ending soon. It's a little strange seeing a national and club manager argue over a different clubs position. It's a tricky situation, but it's definitely exciting. What will be said next?
Great update mate, lots of detail!

January - Improvements

Performing under the second biggest Italian crowd this season, Napoli would face Avellino in the Italian Cup 1st round. A tough match for Avellino, one which they would be expected to lose. Napoli were the first to strike.
Their skipper, Marek Hamsik scoring the goal.

The Slovakian linked up with his partner Lucas Moura to grab the first goal of the game. Brazilian magician Moura touched down a powerful long pass from his teammate Balanta, and knocked it just over the top of an Avellino defender's head. Hamsik ran onto the ball and finished beautifully.

It took just a few minutes for Avellino to strike back with an equalizer. Agon Mehmeti pounded a header into the back of Reina's net to level it all up, but Higuain found himself in a position to prod the ball into the net at the other end from Insigne's cross, winning the match 2-1 in the second half.

Napoli would put in a high class and quality performance next at the San Paolo. Naples was hit with delight as the Partenopei struck twice to beat foes Atlanta in an exciting match, which sent Napoli fans home in happiness.

Higuain scored first just before the half time whistle was blown. His shot from twelve yards put his side in front.
It was all smiles for Napoli's rising star Gennaro Tutino too. He was the player to put his team two goals to the good in the 60th minute. The ball made it's way from Bertolacci to the right winger, he cushioned the ball with the side of his foot, ran at the Atlanta back line and placed a ground shot around the keeper and into the bottom right corner.

It wasn't all good for Napoli this month however. The next round of the Italian Cup would bring Pescara to the San Paolo and the Azzurri would fall to the hands of their oppositions 50th minute penalty.

Nicola Murru would bring down Andrea Bovo in the box, and be booked for the offence. Pescara were awarded the penalty, and Aniello Cutolo stepped up to place the ball in the left top corner of the net. Napoli were going home out of the Italain Cup early...Again.

Napoli would end the month unbeaten in the league. But not before playing Parma in their 5th home game in a row. This tremendous win was inspired by Marek Hamsik, who scored two goals to seal three points in Napoli's favour.

His first goal came from a free kick conceded by Parma's captain Alessandro Lucarelli who brought down Higuain on the edge of the box. Hamsik took his five step run up and smashed it past the wall and into the Parma goal.

The Napoli captain got man of the match, but mainly because of his next goal. A show of true individual class here as the attacking midfielder took in Pereyra's short pass, he got his foot under the ball, getting it over the top of Parma's Biabiany.
Hamsik turned, touched the ball down and volleyed it from 30 yards. The ball would ricochet off the underside of the bar and over the goal line. It even earned goal of the month.

Collecting another three points in this hotly contested Serie A campaign. Napoli, played Bologna in their first away game in five games. Another win for the team would ensure that they would stay top for another week, at least until they took on Cagliari.

Bologna striker Robert Acquafesca pooped up with the first goal of the game silencing the Napoli fans. But it was soon Napoli who silenced them as Hasmik levelled the scores with a header, after running onto William Carvalho's cross.

Napoli won the game late on. Very late on. Six minutes from time Raul Albiol scored a header from Hamsik's cross. But it wasn't over yet. Dries Mertens scored the third goal of the game which went in Napoli's favour as he was put in 1 on 1 with Bologna's keeper, who he beat with perfection.

One last point would be earn't this month as Cagliari provided Napoli with the tough task of coming back from a one goal deficit, when they scored in the 40th minute.

It didn't take long for Napoli to complete the challenge, as Pereyra scored a placed shot from the edge of the box. This goal kept Napoli unbeaten in the Serie A for January.

Thoughts on the report

Baggio: A near unbeaten month. Could have been a lot better. I am really annoyed about going out so early in the cup. It was the same last year and I am determined not to let that happen next year.

We stayed unbeaten in the league too. It's disappointing to miss out on the two points right at the end of the month, but ten points from four is good enough for now considering we will keep our spot at the top of the table.

Hamsik: This month was fairly good. ten points from twelve. All the lads want to make it five league wins in five next month because we need to really show why we are good enough to win the league. We are the best team in this league but so far we haven't REALLY shown why we are good enough to win.

We also have Stuttgart in the round of 32 next month for the Europa League. We want to win that. Obviously...
Our goal is to win the Europa league this season. It's a realistic target.
Great update here! Loving this story.

February - Europa League Progression

February would bring a much much tougher test than the last month. With teams like Fiorentina, Roma and a two legged tie against German side Stuttgart in the Europa league,they would be really pushed hard to see just how strong they are. First, was Empoli who provided absolutely no test for the Azzurri.

On form youngster Gennaro Tutino begun the game with a quick goal in the first few minutes of the game. With the ball at his feet, and a back line to bend at will the Italian magically used what is famously known as 'The Berbatov spin' to beat one of the defenders, steam on and slot the ball into the bottom corne of the net.

Napoli would have liked the second goal to have come sooner, but they did dominate the entire game and finally they got the cushion to fall back on. Marek Hamsik scored from a free kick conceded by Empoli in the 60th minute. Another three points for the topside in the league.

Pescara played Napoli at their own stadium in the second game of the month, and Napoli became absolutely rampant. Firstly, Higuain started the game in the 15th minute by scoring a wonder strike from 30 yards out. on the volley, the striker chested down a deflected Hamsik shot and sweetly belted it into the top corner of the Pescara net.

He scored again ten minutes later. When Stanciu drilled in a ground cross, the argentine used the side of his right foot to create dip and spin on the ball to counter the power which helped the shot into the net. The ball hit the top left corner, it was a truely brilliant strike.

Pescara defender Antonio Bocchetti scored the third goal of this game. But at the wrong end of the pitch. Moura's corner was flung in two minutes after the second and the defender went up for the header to clear the danger. The ball took a sudden dip, he panicked, tried to clear with his foot on the volley, but sliced it and put it into his own net.

The Partenopei's opposition was finished off just 30 minutes in as Higuain scored his third goal of the game making things go from bad to worse for the Biancazzurri.

A bore draw unfortunately in the next game. Napoli vs Fiorentina has brought over 15 goals in the last three games, but this time round they bled out a complete 0-0 stalemate. The best chance of the game possibly went to Stanciu who jumped up high to reach Insigne's cross from deep. The Romanian attacking midfielder "Did a sort of flying kick" as the commentators put it but couldn't get enough on it to put the ball in. It fell to William Carvalho though who had just enough time to head powerfully at the goal...He blazed it over though.

Baggio's men were nearly through the worst of the Serie A games this month, but still one more toughy to go through. Roma. A team they have beaten three times before in the past under roberto Baggio, but certainly not a team to underestimate. They can take anyone down on their day.

Thankfully for Napoli, it wasn't their day. Nenad Tomovic, Roma's right back hilariously booted the ball into his own net making the score 1-0 to Napoli. It's unclear what the right back was actually attempting to do, but we hope what he was trying to do didn't include purposely scoring for his teams rivals.

It took a while but finally they got the second goal of the game. Napoli...that is. Duvan Zapata taking his chances after Higuain was dropped purely due to fitness issues. The Colombian took his chance to score a header from Moura's corner and sent Napoli further into the lead.

The South American hot prospect did so again exactly 15 minutes before the games final whistle. He took the opportunity to score the one on one chance created by his captain, Hamsik.

Napoli were knocked out of the Champions League in the first half of the season. Real Madrid and Manchester City managed to surpass to the next round whilst Napoli just edged Monaco to take the Europa League spot. They would be starting the campaign against Stuttgart, who were considered definite underdogs for this one.

Duvan Zapata, took his chances in the first half of the month, and carried his good form by scoring in the 2nd minute of the game. Lucas Moura scored the second of the game ten minutes later and Napoli were a two goals to the good.

Gabriel Torje, pulled the Azzuri back quickly though. Four minutes had gone by since the second Napoli goal and Torje wasted no time bringing them back to just one goal apart.

Zapata scored quarter of an hour later to make the score 3-1. Two goals ahead of Stuttgart, the Partenopei were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure which they did very well. Stuttgart put so much effort put couldn't get passed the 'bus'. They had worn themselves to the ground and couldn't stop Dries Mertens from breaking away on the counter and scoring in the 90th minute.

Verona tested nothing worth testing in the next game. It was as just like a training session for Baggio's team. Mertens scored the first goal of the game from the spot, Fabriazio Cacciatore conceded the spot kickand as a result, was booked.

Mertens scored a few minutes later from a free kick. Again, Fabriazio conceding that, and getting sent off for the foul on the left winger. The Belgian curled the ball around the wall and into the net to make the score 2-0.Duvan Zapata continued his form as well, by scoring from around twelve yards out.

The next game would determine either Stuttgart's or Napoli's fate in the Europa league. Three goals ahead, surely Napoli were through? Or could the Germans do the unthinkable and score three to make it through on away goals. Or would they score more?

Well, one team certainly scored three goals. But it wasn't the team who need them. Despite scoring first in the 14th minute, Timo Werner would be left disappointed as
Pereyra, Zapata, and Lucas Moura all scored to send Napoli in the the round of 16.

Thoughts on the report

Baggio: What a month. Completely unbeaten and through to the next round of the Europa league. I couldn't ask for much more from the lads, they were amazing. Even in the game against Fioro they were awesome. We were just so unlucky not to score. We'll have to make sure bad luck doesn't get the better of us next time round.We are doing so well, just three months of hard work and performances like these and the league is ours.

Hamsik: We were ever so good this month. Every game we showed true class, we showed how good you need to be to play for this team. We set an example to other teams, we set a standard. We sent a message to all other Serie A teams; Come get us. We are the best team in Italy and we want to keep it that way.

Thirteen out of fourteen points. Of course we'd like that to be all fifteen next time, but we were just on the wrong end of luck in our third game against Fioro. I feel sorry for Stanciu, he was unlucky not to win the game late for us in that match. I was watching from the bench, so all I could think when William Carvalho put the ball over he bar was how I wished it could have been me. He was really cut up about it.
A great month for your team mate! Keep it up!
Incredible month
Great month, hopefully you can keep the results flowing. Love the presentation of the story.
Incredible detail on this update Aaron, nice layout as well!

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