Sarrismo is relentless: The three key components of Napoli’s tactical attack on Serie A leaders Juventus

Sarrismo is relentless: The three key components of Napoli’s tactical attack on Serie A leaders Juventus

Napoli sensationally kept their Scudetto dreams alive with a well-deserved victory at championship rivals Juventus.

Maurizio Sarri’s men, who didn’t put a foot wrong all game, stole it at the death through a power Kalidou Koulibaly header from a José Callejón corner.

With no fewer than four matches remaining in Serie A the gap between leaders Juve and second place Napoli is a mere one point.

You have to go back to 1990 for the last time Napoli were Italian champions. It was their second title in three years and both were inspired by the legendary Diego Maradona.

Since then Napoli’s passionate fanbase have yearned for a third championship; there’s no question their side under local boy Maurizio Sarri play some of the best football in Europe, and from minute one to last they demonstrated that.

Sarri’s brand of football is exquisite and you couldn’t help but notice his mark on this exceptional performance, Napoli’s first win away to Juve since 2009, here are three things we spotted.

Full-backs involved

This isn’t something new or exclusive to Sarri but very few do it better than Napoli. Elseid Hysaj and Mário Rui, who are essentially auxiliary wingers in the Neapolitan set-up, each had 80+ touches of the ball and importantly were rarely wasteful in possession.

Pressing is relentless

One distinctive feature of Napoli’s football under Sarri is relentless pressing when not in possession. And there are few better sights today.

Juve, dispossessed no fewer than 13 times, were at times boxed inside their defensive third and looked powerless as the Neapolitans enjoyed 60.4% possession.

This high-intensity approach ultimately laid the foundation to enact their one-touch game which can be devastating as Allegri’s men found out.

Asymmetry

When it comes to planning Sarri is as meticulous as they come. No stone is left unturned and his game plan against Juventus was well thought out. It quickly became evident what Napoli’s felt would be key to victory as much emphasis was placed on the left side of their attack.

Here talisman Marek Hamsik, operating as a left central midfielder, formed a triumvirate with playmaker Jorginho and left-back Mario Rui. Hamsik, through his innate spatial awareness, would navigate between the half space with Rui offering width both along with left-forward Lorenzo Insigne had a combined 220+ touches of the ball.

All of this was a contrast to events on the other side: Allan, Jose Callejon and Hysaj were more focused on width and off the ball duties. Bringing the balance was the metronomic Jorginho, who attempted 133 passes overall, and completing 100 of those.

Hamsik’s substitution for Piotr Zieliński despite his reasonable performance, after the hour mark, was simply tactical. It’s a simple case of retaining balance which is sacrosanct in Sarri’s eyes.

All of this was a contrast to events on the other side; if those three were proactive then Allan and Hysaj were being reactive, this asymmetrical approach nevertheless paid dividends as Napoli were all over their championship rivals.