Flying High: How Napoli Went from European Strugglers to Table Toppers

Napoli’s third-place finish at the end of the 2021/22 campaign was their best for two seasons, following successive fifth and seventh rankings in Serie A.

Now, a season on and with 27 matches played, Luciano Spalletti’s side are 19 points clear and on course to win their first Scudetto since 1990.

From on-fire forwards to unsung heroes, here is a look at how Napoli came to be flying high at the Serie A summit.

On-Fire Osimhen

Victor Osimhen had already scored a respectable 14 league goals in a 2021-22 season marred by a horrific cheekbone fracture that reportedly nearly blinded the forward. Osimhen posted impressive numbers despite nearly two months sidelined, but he has built on that – and then some – this campaign, with a staggering 21 goals and four assists in just 21 Serie A matches.

In November 2022, during a 2-1 win over Atalanta, Osimhen became Nigeria’s highest ever score in Serie A with 32 goals, meaning the 24-year-old is now one of the favorites to win African Player of the Year for 2023. For Napoli, though, these contributions have had a more direct effect, helping them soar up the rankings and boast odds of -20000 to be crowned Serie A champions on bwin betting. It must be said, though, that Osimhen has been helped by a certain majestic forward partner.

Magic “Kvaradona”

In a world of infinite data and information, the emergence of a genuine unknown phenomenon is rare. But that’s exactly what has happened with Napoli’s new star man, who a year ago was playing in Georgia’s top-flight with Dinamo Batumi. Now fans and neutrals alike have started referring to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as “Kvaradona”, after the Partenopei’s Argentine hero.

With 10 goals and 11 assists in 21 appearances in Serie A alone, it’s not hard to see why. Kvaratskhelia has been a breath of fresh air this year, a player who is impossible to predict simply because he is so unorthodox. The Georgian clearly has a profound love for the game, evidenced by his mazy dribbling and slick flicks, and alongside Osimhen has simply proven impossible to deal with for opposition defense.

The Unsung Heroes

Perhaps the most staggering element of Napoli’s successes this term has been the generational change the club went through over the summer. Veterans such as Dries Mertens, Kalidou Kouliably and former captain Lorenzo Insigne all left to seek pastures new after multiple years at the club, with many writing Napoli off before a ball was kicked.

But the exact opposite has happened, and it’s the unsung heroes that have got them there. Kvaratskhelia is a perfect example, but the likes of Stanislav Lobotka, Mario Rui and Piotr Zielinski are all enjoying stellar campaigns after years of somewhat average performances in Campania. Even Spalletti, who promotes an exciting brand of soccer but is far from a serial winner, has stepped up to the plate and galvanized a team who could have crumbled after losing three key players in the summer.

Very much aligned with the city they represent, Napoli this season are a representation of the David vs Goliath tale in Serie A.

With one hand on the Scudetto and half an eye on European success, it seems Spalletti’s side knows no bounds to the heights they can reach this term.