With the Neymar saga complete the transfer mongers have shifted their sights to Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez. Bild is reporting the German striker is on his way to Napoli, which means Edinson Cavani is most probably leaving. In terms of dominoes this is a big one, with Cavani looking to get some of that Falcao money.
In all competitions this season Gomez recorded 23 goals on 33 shots on target in 18 starts. Croatian Mario Mandzukic ate into his playing time, making the man with the best button in the whole world an expendable piece for the treble winners.
More to come as news develops. Bild’s reputation, while dicey, was bolstered after breaking the Goetze news.
No sooner had the football ended, than the band began to play. ‘Il valzer delle panchine’ – ‘the waltz of the benches’ – is one of the more colourful idioms used by Italians to describe the string of managerial sackings and appointments that takes place in the country every summer.
That phrase might even reflect a little of the national mindset. Where English managers are left at the mercy of a mechanical ‘merry-go-round’, their Italian counterparts are thought to hold some kind of control. They might not get to call the tunes, but they can at least determine where their footsteps take them.
One manager, indeed, has already shown off some bold moves this summer. Walter Mazzarri could have led Napoli back into the Champions League next season after steering them to a second-place finish in Serie A. Instead he two-stepped away with Inter, a team which finished ninth this year after losing a dismal 16 games.
Mazzarri had been mulling this switch over for more than 12 months, ever since discovering last spring that the Inter owner, Massimo Moratti, was a keen admirer of his work. The newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the manager had even phoned up one unnamed journalist with connections at Inter in the hopes of gleaning a little insight into the owner’s plans for the club.
The Nerazzurri had sacked Claudio Ranieri in March of 2012, and were expected to seek out a full-time replacement in the summer. Instead Moratti gave the job to his former youth team coach Andrea Stramaccioni, who had impressed during a brief stint as caretaker manager. Mazzarri, after weeks of stalling, confirmed his intention to stay with Napoli just two days after Stramaccioni’s deal was signed.
Quite why the Inter job appealed so strongly is a subject that Mazzarri has not yet discussed. The manager has declined to speak about his new club in advance of his introductory press conference, which should take place sometime in the next few days. But it has not escaped the public’s attention that Napoli finished above Inter in each of the last two seasons.
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Well, that was a lot quicker than the last time. So basically Benitez is kind of like the Harvey Keitel character in Pulp Fiction, Mr. Wolf. Someone leaves a legacy but in the process makes a bit of a mess at the end, and he just sort of swoops in and cleans up.
Total opportunist. Anyway, in case you’re catching up: Inter sack Stramaccioni, hire Walter Mazzari from Inter, Rafa goes to Napoli. Deck chairs shuffled. What it means for any of these teams…well. I think Inter kind of win here. Rafa’s not really a project man, and Napoli have become a project club.
Good on these Napoli fans for leaving the guy some food and water.
Image via Matt Barker
Napoli’s directive coming into the biggest game of the Serie A season was clear. Get three points and make it a battle to the finish with Juventus. The Bianconeri had their bus pelted with rocks, eggs and bottles as they made their way from the hotel to Stadio San Paolo. The noise at the stadium said it all. This was huge.
Six years ago the two clubs battled in Serie B. Today a massive momentum swing was on the line. Unfortunately for the title race starved neutrals–hey!–this clash ended in a draw. Napoli’s strong start–powered by Marek Hamsik’s impressive play (and haircut)–went for naught. Andrea Pirlo sent an excellent cross into the box, finding Giorgio Chiellini for the games opening goal in the 10th minute. Chiellini was pumped. Read the rest of this entry »
Napoli 3-0 Palermo by fasthighlights-2012
Blessed with an amazing name and rare bloodlines (Swiss-Turkish), Gökhan İnler has done this before. You may remember his majestic goal against Chelsea in the Champions League, one that sent the game into extra time at Stamford Bridge. He did it again today. Napoli leads 2-0 at halftime. That dance at the end nearly ruined this. Get it together.
Update: The sticklers at Youtube took the original video down.
Storylines abound ahead of Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash between Juventus and Napoli in Turin. Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone. Juventus, the Scudetto holders, are unbeaten in 46 league games dating back to the spring of 2011 as they make their preparations for a match against the side best fitted to take their title away in seven months time. Napoli, meanwhile, defeated Juventus in the Coppa Italia final last May and are currently level with the Bianconeri on 19 points from seven rounds.
Yes, Lazio and Inter Milan are just five points back of the pair heading into the weekend’s action, but it might as well be 20—such is the gulf in quality between Juventus and Napoli and everyone else in Serie A.
To date the top two have combined for 12 wins out of 14 matches and have a positive goal difference of 24. The rest of the division comes in at -24, and some of the other would-be contenders—namely the two Milan sides—are at least a season away from making a serious run at the championship. Inter are showing some promise but are in something of a restructuring year; AC Milan have already endured a woeful start and have nowhere near the depth required to pose a legitimate threat.
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