Tactical analysis: Napoli’s Defensive Improvement Fuels Their Title Challenge

Maurizio Sarri has taken Serie A by the storm. Everyone likes his possession-based, proactive, and attacking style. His football entertains, and more importantly, earns result; Sarri’s Napoli have qualified for the Champions League every season. They have always contended for the league title. This year, they have made another leap and pushed Juventus to the maximum; they are two points behind the league leader. Napoli have averaged 2.52 points per game, ~10% higher than last season. At this rate, they will collect 96 points when the season ends, more than the all but two champions since the league has moved to a three-point system. Sarri has raised the bar of the Serie A.

With revenue of €212 million in 2016/17, ~ €200 million fewer than Juventus, Napoli couldn’t rely on the players’ transfer to strengthen themselves. Internal improvement became the primary option. Their offense has been steady every season under Sarri (between 2.11 and 2.47 goals per game). Their rise in performance this season comes from their defense: they concede only 0.66 goals per game this term, a staggering 35% decrease from last season. Napoli’s defensive improvement fuels their title challenge.

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