Here's why Carlo Ancelotti has a big task on his hands at Napoliby Chloe Beresford / 04 September 2018, 11:55Tweet
All eyes were on Napoli as new boss Carlo Ancelotti took over the reins from the departed Maurizio Sarri.
The side had been so regimented in the now Chelsea Coach’s strict and meticulous passing game that no-one knew how the squad would fare without him, even with such an experienced man now in the dugout.
After two matches and six points in the bag, it seemed like the former Bayern Munich boss had figured out the winning formula, even if the side had gone behind in both matches versus Lazio and AC Milan. Any defensive fragility in conceding three goals in those opening two encounters was something to work on, a mere byproduct of such a huge change in ethos in the summer and a tough fixture list to boot.
The Partenopei were once again being discussed as potential challengers to Juve’s stronghold on the Scudetto and all seemed rosy in a world where three-time Champions League winner Ancelotti had everything in hand.
Then they played Sampdoria.
Marco Giampaolo’s side were coming off the back of a first-round postponement and a disappointing defeat to Udinese in Week Two, and had a poor record versus the Neapolitans, having lost five from their last six encounters. With this in mind, no-one expected them to display the level of enthusiasm and positivity they showed on Sunday evening, blitzing Ancelotti’s men with a relentless high-octane approach that simply overwhelmed the heavily favoured visitors.
AS Roma reject Gregoire Defrel opened the scoring after just 11 minutes with a sensational strike, completing his brace just after the half-hour mark. Napoli huffed and puffed but offered nowhere near enough to mount a comeback akin to what we had seen in the previous two rounds, and Naples-born veteran Fabio Quagliarella stunned even the Samp supporters with a sublime back-heel flick to complete the rout with 15 minutes to play.
Goal. Of. The. Season. Take a bow Fabio Quagliarella! ???????????? pic.twitter.com/yUjmPNEs74— Adam Digby (@Adz77) September 2, 2018
The scoreline was to be a shock reminder of exactly how fragile Napoli’s previous results had been, Ancelotti’s men having crumbled at the first sign of facing a side that were willing to go all-out with their attack. Statistics revealed that the Partenopei had conceded seven goals from seven shots on target faced, a worrying indication that all is not well with their backline.
To make matters worse, they face Fiorentina after the international break, another young and confident side that will not be afraid to expose their defensive frailties, one that is the only team aside from Juventus to have secured maximum points so far this term.
“We had the same start as in the other two games,” Ancelotti revealed to Sky Italia after the match.
“We were able to turn those around, but this time we didn’t. We again gifted the first half with a bad attitude, especially on the opening goal. We went 1-0 down, got worried and started to struggle.
“I don’t think we need to change all that much, we just have to start games with more focus. That attitude is unacceptable and we couldn’t keep getting away with it. Our defence isn’t too deep, as we press high, but the problem is the lack of pressing from the midfielders and forwards.”
The Coach is determined to avoid Sarri’s downfall in previous seasons – a lack of rotation in the starting XI – however versus Sampdoria, Captain Marek Hamsik and winger Jose Callejon were both rested for the first time since 2014, a factor that must have been difficult for the rest of the side to get used to.
Ancelotti has the temperament and experience to see his task through, but perhaps it won’t be as easy as it seemed after Napoli won their first two matches of Serie A.