The Gil Azzuri is yet to drop any points after the first eight games in the league.

The competition in the Serie A is very tough in the 2021/22 season as the title is there for the taking. Inter Milan won the league last season, ending Juventus’ long-running domination of the competition. However, with Antonio Conte’s departure, defending the league title will be a huge task for the outfit. As it happens, after the early round of fixtures, Napoli have emerged as one of the favourites to win the league title.

The last time Napoli won the Italian league was back in 1989/90. They have a strong squad and an experienced manager in Luciano Spalletti who could bring an end to a 31-year title drought. The league is wide open and the competition is relentless. Teams like AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus and Napoli will back themselves to lift the crown this season.  

However, judging by the initial results, Napoli have staked a strong claim and will be vying for the league title this year. Here are the five reasons that make them one of the favourites to win the Serie A:

5. Strong start

Napoli are the only team in the top five European leagues to maintain a perfect record after eight games. They have won all eight of their matches in the Serie A, collecting 24 points in the process. They are yet to drop points and have started off in the best possible way. 

This form will certainly keep them amongst the top ranks and in contention to challenge for the league title. Napoli will hope that they can carry this run of results as far as possible, favourably into the new year. If the outfit is still leading the league table by January 2022, they will become stronger favourites to finally lift the league title.  

4. Juventus and Inter Milan’s struggles

Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan are the other heavyweights in the league who will be amongst the favourites to win the league. However, Juventus and Inter Milan have their own challenges to deal with, which could work in the favour of Napoli. Juventus has only won four games out of the first eight, drawing two and losing two. The Old Lady is reeling with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Allegri is still finding the right balance of the squad.

On the other hand, Inter Milan’s team this season is very different from the one that won the league last term. Manager Antonio Conte has departed, and players like Romelu Lukaku, Ashley Young, and Achraf Hakimi have all left while Cristian Eriksen is absent. Defending the league with new faces in both the playing XI and the managerial positions will be a tall task for the Nerazzurri.   

3. Victor Osimhen’s presence in the attacking department

Napoli paid €70 million for Osimhen’s services in 2020 (Courtesy: Forbes)

Victor Osimhen is one of the most promising young players in Europe at the moment. He is vital to Napoli’s cause and has taken the season under his stride from the early stages. The 22-year-old has scored eight goals and provided one assist in nine overall appearances for the club this season. The Nigerian has won the FIFA U-17 World Cup and arrived in Italy when Napoli paid €70 million for his services to Lille in September 2020.

One of the key aspects to Osimhen is that he is tall and yet quite fast. He has developed a good partnership with Lorenzo Insigne. The two have made 34 passes between them, the most among any forward duo in Europe. He has a strong presence while challenging for aerial duels and can also shoot from distance in addition to finding space inside the box. Osimhen is on his way to having his most successful season in terms of goals and his form will be central to Napoli’s success in the league.  

2. A well-oiled team

Napoli is not reliant on individual brilliance to dig out positive results. The squad is a well-oiled machine which relies on teamwork and overall contribution of each player in the lineup. Their attack is led by Victor Osimhen who has found a great partnership with Italy international Lorenzo Insigne. The midfield has a strong presence of Fabian Ruiz and André Zambo Anguissa who are tough nuts to crack.

However, the secret to Napoli’s success and any team that eventually challenges for a league title is the defence. Kalidou Koulibaly is still one of the best defenders around and has Konstantinos Manolas/Amir Rrahmani as his center-back partner. David Ospina is reliant as ever between the sticks. Moreover, players like Dries Mertens, Matteo Politano, Giovanni Di Lorenzo among others keep the team ticking and provide depth.

1. Luciano Spalletti’s leadership

Spaletti can be the force that guides Napoli to a Serie A triumph (Courtesy: Football Italia)

The brains behind the whole team is Luciano Spalletti. The vociferous and extremely expressive manager is working his magic at the helm. The 62-year-old brings immense wealth of knowledge and experience on the table. Although he has never won the Serie A before, but the fact makes him hungrier to win it with Napoli. 

Spaletti has won the Italian Cup twice with AS Roma previously and has achieved more success in Russia. The Italian won two league titles and two Russian Cups with Zenit St. Petersburg. He is heavily enthusiastic from the touchline and kind of a manager players love to play for. Spaletti is well-equipped to take this team all the way and is bringing the best out of the players available to him.

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