Season Preview: Napoli – Mazzarri looking to build on success of last season

Last season: Napoli 2010-11 season review Last Season:
The Squad: Coach Walter Mazzarri has managed to hold on to the vast majority of the side which finished third last season, despite Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik being linked to various top European clubs. The Napoli boss has also made some key additions to strengthen his squad as they look to mount a serious challenge for the Scudetto.
Jose Sosa and Michele Pazienza are the only noteworthy departures this summer, the former joining Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv for an undisclosed fee whilst Pazienza moved to Serie A rivals Juventus on a free transfer.
Gokhan Inler was unveiled at a press conference wearing a lion mask after joining from Udinese. The Swiss international boosts an already strong midfield and adds extra competition for first-team places.
Defender Miguel Britos, who has signed for a fee reported to be around the €10m mark, was a key player for Bologna last season and has been brought in to bolster the Napoli defence and will likely slot in beside Hugo Campagnaro and Paolo Cannavaro in the three-man backline. Former Estudiantes centre-back Federico Fernandez adds some depth to the defence, the 22-year-old Argentine was expected to join the club in December 2010 but due to problems with his passport he didn’t arrive in Italy until this summer.
Midfielders Marco Donadel and Mario Santana have both joined as free transfers from Fiorentina. Former Milan player Donadel has vast experience in Serie A and is known for his dangerous long range shots, while Santana can join Hamsik and Lavezzi in linking the midfield with Cavani. Former Parma player Blerim Dzemaili has also come in to provide some cover for the midfield.
Goalkeepers Antonio Rosati and Roberto Colombo have joined to provide back-up for Morgan De Sanctis.
Coach – Walter Mazzarri: Mazzarri will most likely stick to his 3-4-2-1 formation with Cavani spearheading the attack. He has spent more than €40m this summer making some great additions to his squad which he believes is the strongest he has ever had since he began coaching. The signings the Coach has made since the end of last season have turned Napoli into a team which looks capable of battling Europe’s elite in the Champions League this term without sacrificing performances in domestic competitions.
Mazzarri wants to “astound people” with this Napoli team, which suggests that he is not looking to settle for third place in the league this time around. The former Sampdoria Coach has been hailed as “better than Jose Mourinho” by Napoli’s exuberant President Aurelio De Laurentiis, a point which could be refuted, but few could argue that he is one of the most talented managers in European football. Mazzarri is certainly the right man to take the Azzurri forward and bring the club their first Scudetto in 22 years and with him at the helm they have a great chance of progressing past the group stages of Europe’s most prestigious tournament.
Player to look out for: Edinson Cavani – Aptly named El Matador, the Uruguayan is strong, quick, powerful and clinical in front of goal. He is a very admirable young player and he will be looking to end Antonio Di Natale’s two year reign as the league’s top scorer this season. Cavani spearheads the Napoli attack and adds the finishing touches to the chances Hamsik and Lavezzi create.
Prediction: Challenging for the Scudetto and progressing past the group stages of the Champions League. The squad is strong enough and has enough depth to improve on last season’s success and if the likes of Cavani and Lavezzi stay fit then there is no limit as to what this side can achieve.

Probable XI:

De Sanctis
Campagnaro – Cannavaro – Britos
Maggio – Inler – Gargano – Dossena
Hamsik – Lavezzi
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