Napoli Team Appearances: An analytical breakdown

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;

Henry V. IV.iii.60-62

Henry V’s address to his troops in France is one of Shakespeare’s most quoted passages and the most recent Sempre! pod brought this quote to mind in relation to Sarri’s men. I would say that, more than any other team in Europe, Napoli has the strongest cohesion within a group. The 14-15 players who regularly make their way on to the pitch are a Band of Brothers who have come together this season with a very clear goal: to win the third Scudetto for Napoli. This is a very settled group of players, many of whom have been with the club for a while and I want to explore how the period and quality of time at the club compares with our league rival.

Is this cohesion going to win us the title?

Comparison of Appearances

So, the raw data backs up what many would believe who watch Napoli every week – this is a team that knows each other well. The last XI, against SPAL, which, remember, contained Mario Rui (a newbie) averages an overall total of 147 appearances for the club. Each player averages 29 games a season (they play a lot together) and the average number of seasons in the first team is 5.

Napoli v. SPAL 18/02/2018

Name Total League Appearances Av per season Seasons
Reina

128

32

4

Hysaj

104

35

3

Koulibaly

112

28

4

Albiol

148

30

5

Rui

13

13

1

Allan

89

30

3

Jorginho

122

24

5

Hamsik

380

35

11

Callejon

175

35

5

Mertens

157

31

5

Insigne

191

32

6

Total

1619

Average

147

29

5

(Raw data from www.whoscored.com)

How does this compare to the team that are currently in second and one point behind?

Well. There is a big difference. The Juventus starting XI against Torino averages 77 total appearances for the club (70 fewer than Napoli), averaging 20 appearances a season (demonstrating the traditionally bigger squad size) and an average of 3.5 seasons in the first team. Finally, the total appearances of Napoli in the SPAL XI were 1619 in comparison to Juve’s 849 – which is nearly double.

Juventus v. Chievo 27/01/18

Name Total League Appearances Av per season Seasons
Szczesny

13

13

1

Asamoah

107

18

6

Chiellini

351

27

13

Rugani

44

15

3

Sciglio

8

8

1

Sturaro

60

15

4

Pjanic

51

26

2

Khedira

69

23

3

Sandro

66

22

3

Higuain

62

31

2

Costa

18

18

1

849

Average

77

20

3.5

(Raw data from www.whoscored.com)

For all the nerves that are surrounding Napoli’s Scudetto push, we have a team which has considerably more experience of playing with each other than Juventus. This, against Lazio for example, is incredibly helpful when our backs are against the walls and could help explain the numerous times we have come back from going behind to win this season. Napoli’s patient team building under Benitez as well as Sarri has to praised – even if the frustrations around the repeated failure to add to the squad in recent mercato’s are valid concerns.

Social Media

Less stats based evidence also points towards a strong, supportive unit. Firstly there is the recent mass wearing of Ghoulam’s 31 shirt

– a simple demonstration of the togetherness of the squad.

Social media also reveals a team that knows each other well enough to lark about with each other. Jorginho, Mertens and Koulibaly’s Instagram accounts are full of silly, pictures and short videos of gli ragazzi having a great time, away from the rigours of Mister Sarri’s famed, drone-supervised training pitch. My personal favourite being this from Dries, lovingly poking fun at Lorenzo Insigne,

This is the sort of fun you cannot have with strangers!

The Downside?

A first team averaging nearly 30 games a season mean they are a closely knit bunch on the pitch but that does mean that there are others missing out. Giaccherini’s recent loan move was followed by some barbed comments fired back to Sarri’s camp. This would indicate that the squad players are getting frustrated – Amadou Diawara’s agent was making some rather public noises of discontent recently, too. Perhaps, in order to challenge more seriously on multiple fronts next season, we need to see the average appearances per season stat come down slightly.

Closing Thoughts

For my money, all the most memorable teams of recent years have been the ones who have remained together for long enough to forge a strong identity: Guardiola’s Barcelona, Ferguson’s Manchester United, Thomas Schaaf’s Werder Bremen and even William Shakespeare’s theatre company the Lord Chamberlain’s men! Richard Burbage, the man for whom he wrote Henry V had been in ‘the first team’ for years by that point and stayed long enough to play the very old Prospero at the end of Shakespeare’s writing career… Anyway… In the case of Sarri’s men, they know each other inside out and, in the nail biting run in for the Scudetto, these stats will certainly help me from chewing both my hands off!


By Frank Sidekick

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