Champions League: Napoli are shock title contenders; that’s how Luciano Spalletti made it happen

Napoli dominate the current 2022-23 Serie A season and look to run away with the title. Luciano Spalletti’s side are currently leading the table with a fifteen-point lead over Inter Milan and could wrap up the league early if their form continues. Napoli are definite favorites to win their third Scudetto, which would be a historic event considering they have only won two Serie A titles in their history in 1986-87 and 1989-1990, when Diego Armando Maradona was the star of the crew. However, despite the domestic form, those who do not consider Napoli as Champions League contenders are making a mistake. Spalletti’s team can also compete at European level and make even more noise than in Serie A. Here’s why:

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Napoli have been outstanding so far and have only lost one Serie A game against Inter Milan on January 6th. Spalletti’s team won the next seven matches and only drew two games so far this season. The Champions League campaign was a success as the Azzurri won their first five group stage matches and only lost at Anfield against Liverpool in the last match of the group after they were already qualified for the last eight. Napoli managed to beat Ajax 6-1 as a visitor in what is considered a historic performance. The only negative aspect of this season was the unexpected elimination against Cremonese on penalties in the round of 16 of the Coppa Italia.

The key man behind the club’s current success is Spalletti, who has been able to create a special atmosphere inside the dressing room, especially after some key players left last summer. Club captain Lorenzo Insigne and club legends Dries Mertens and Kalidou Koulibaly left Napoli in the summer of 2022 and the team immediately replaced them with other players who are performing well. In addition to the tactical ideas that Spalletti has effectively put into practice this year, the former AS Roma coach has been able to unify a group of young players who dream of doing something special this season.

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As an example, goalkeeper Alex Meret was one step away from joining Spezia, a club currently struggling to avoid relegation. He should leave after Napoli signed Keylor Navas from PSG. However, in the world of signings, anything can happen and the former Real Madrid player did not join Napoli and Meret stayed at the club. Spalletti was able to manage a rather difficult situation for both the player and the club and always supported him in public and in private. It’s no coincidence that Meret is currently a key player for the club, conceding just 15 goals so far this season in Serie A and has been instrumental in some saves that have literally saved his teammates.

Napoli was also able to count on unexpected stars such as the Georgian talent Khvicha Kvaratskhelia who arrived last summer to replace former captain Insigne. He has been the undoubted star of the club and has already scored eleven goals and assisted his teammates 14 times in all competitions. His vision on the pitch is what makes Luciano Spalletti’s team unpredictable on the attacking side at times when the Azzurri are keeping the ball. His impact in the Champions League has been tremendous as he has already scored two goals in the five games he has played.

Striker Victor Osimhen was injured for a while at the start of the season, but unlike last season when the whole team suffered when he was not fit, this year ex-Hellas Verona striker Giovanni Simeone has been crucial when involved. The son of Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone, he scored four goals in five Champions League appearances and started just twice in six games. Scoring in the most important European competition was his childhood dream, and with Napoli he achieved what he always wanted since he started playing professional football.

Victor Oshimhen




Khvicha Kvaratskhelia




Young Simeon




Unlike past seasons, Napoli’s bench players are also performing better. Players like Elif Elmas, Matteo Politano or Giacomo Raspadori have been an important part of this squad and are good solutions for Spalletti when he needs them. Napoli have been strong and have dominated big clubs in both Serie A and the Champions League this campaign, and for these reasons we have to consider them as potential candidates for the European title as well. Of course, they are not favorites to win the competition but they will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the round of 16 and are heavy favorites to go through.

They have ambition, they play incredible football and they also have a huge fan base that supports them more than ever in the last thirty years. Winning the Scudetto could be incredibly emotional for the whole city, and it seems likely.

But this team dreams of more.

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