I really enjoyed the twitter response to the last thing I wrote for this site: an article exploring the different formations Mister Ancelotti might employ over the season. Since then, Massimo has put this fantastic piece together about Hamsik’s role, too. Both of these pieces of writing suggest that Napoli next season is going to have a squad rather than a team. Today, I want to explore the two XI’s that Carlo has at his finger tips for the 2018/19 glory charge on multiple fronts.
A Refreshing Change.
In my opinion, Sarri’s lack of rotation and the lack of reinforcements for our forward line cost us the Scudetto. We ran out of goals from February and the team began to serious fatigue around this time. This comparison between Juve and us illustrates the difference in minutes on the pitch between the two clubs.
Next season this has to, and will, change. We have a manager who has always utilised squads in the past and, moreover, we have had an extremely fruitful mercato bringing in €90 million of talent and losing only Jorginho. The reported ‘firesale’ going on in Turin places us in a fantastic position to keep all our players happy and fresh over the season. Let’s have a look at what I think are our ‘two XI’s. I hope you’ll agree that either can be extremely competitive at home as well as in Europe.
I’ve gone with Ancelotti’s classic Christmas Tree 4-3-2-1 formation for several reasons. Firstly, it is a way to keep Hamsik and Diawara in the same team. I know that there have been noises of playing Marek in a deeper role but I believe, with more rotation, his freshness will return. Secondly, we are going to have three new goalkeepers and our No.1 is a twenty one years old.
Our opening fixtures are very tough and Meret is going to need some protection. Three central midfielders can provide this and Diawara, Allan and Fabian are all versatile enough to swap roles at various moments in the game. Initially, I see Diawara as the regista, Allan as the enforcer and Fabian as a more box to box, multiple role player. Finally, Hamsik operates in a more solid and traditional No.10 with Insigne floating wide from a central ‘free role’ position with Milik up front.
Before we are all scandalised by the lack of Mertens, Callejon and our huge summer signing Verdi, lets breathe and look at…
I’ve gone with a more familiar 4-3-3 formation here to bring out the best in the players we have available. Kirsten spoke in depth on the last Sempre show about what Maksimovic could bring to the table this season and I’m excited to see what he can do. Tonelli did excellently when called upon towards the end of the season and I hope the gossip linking him to Cagliari is just gossip.
Mario Rui at left back can do a solid job and we need to sign a new right back – the noise seems to suggest it’s back to Arias because of Sabaly’s failed medical. In midfield we have Rog, Zielinski and Grassi – the latter really impressed me in pre-season and up front it’s Verdi, Callejon and Mertens. I’ve written before about how much I like Mertens as a #9 and 46 league goals in two season speak for themselves. Verdi is happy on either wing and Callejon provides us with both goals and assists so I think it is vital we hang on to him.
In reality, we will probably see mixes of both these XI’s as Ancelotti rotates in a more organic way but this, I hope, illustrates the difference in depth we have this season!
Keeping Everyone Happy
The last words should go to Mister Ancelotti. Below is an excerpt from his excellent autobiography and explains exactly how much he trusts his players. If he can do something similar at Napoli, we can finally have a squad which makes it all the way to the end of the season.
“I had the problem of fitting four great players, Pirlo, Seedorf, Rui Costa and Kaka into three places for my team. I spent time talking to all of them and I told them they had to work it out or one of them every game would be on the bench. Eventually we came up with the diamond where Pirlo and Kaka exchanged places, Pirlo deeper and Kaka more forward. That 442 diamond system turned Kaka into the World Player of the Year by him playing at the top of the diamond and, simultaneously, scoring more and creating more assists while allowing the team to win.”