The team from Naples has continued their electric 2016/17 performances and then some! Shoring up their defence, they’ve gone from the 1.15 goals per game registered by Round 20 last season down to 0.65 goals per game this season. This improvement has been met with consistency in the attacking department. They have boasted the best football in Italy, if not Europe, over the course of the last 18 months. However, their thin squad and congested fixture list have seen them reveal a few chinks in their armour. This January depth is needed if they are to continue with their best shot at a Scudetto since the days of Diego Maradona.
Best Player – Marek Hamsik
The new talisman of Naples has been in eclectic form this term. Whilst sitting a bit deeper than normal he has been able to control play, spread passes, and create chances galore.
Quiet Achiever – Kalidou Koulibaly
To say he has been a rock in an often leaky defence might be a cliché, but it’s a well-deserved one. The Senegalese defender has been ever-present and ever-dominant for Napoli this season. His control of the ball is belied by his imposing stature.
Worst Player – Faouzi Ghoulam’s injury
Napoli’s system is dependent on predictive passing and requiring players to have an almost telepathic knowledge of their teammate’s movements. Ghoulam’s injury in UCL tie to Man. City has been a turning point. Napoli has since become more inconsistent and fallible.
Manager – Maurizio Sarri
The native Neapolitan has ensured a level of consistency Napoli has never been known for since their return to Serie A. They are atop the table, but their continued competitiveness is dependent on how his directors perform on the transfer market. Fatigue has truly been a *****.
Team Grade – A
A lot can be said about the Old Lady since their return from the Calciopoli scandal, but weak is hardly a term that can be attributed to them (even if ‘perennial bridesmaid’ can). The consistency that has seen the Bianconeri achieved unprecedented success has more or less remained steady despite the exit of former Inter man and Juve stalwart, Leonardo Bonucci, to AC Milan (in spectacular fashion). This season has seen the clubs around them raise their levels to match.
Best Player – Paulo Dybala
His form has been brilliant, if not inconsistent. An early season return of 14 goals have been followed by a serious dry spell spotted with a week of 3 goals across Coppa Italia and Serie A.
Quiet Achiever – Mehdi Benatia
Has made Bonucci’s absence around the back gone unnoticed.
Worst Player – Claudio Marchisio
When not injured he has looked a shadow of himself.
Manager – Max Allegri
Keeping the ship steady, but you can’t help but feel the club may need some new ideas.
Team Grade – B –
Suning’s vision is starting to take form as Inter shot up to the top of the table whilst going unbeaten (edit: only to then tumble down into contention with the Rome clubs). Nonetheless, this season has been a stark improvement upon the last in almost every key metric available. Poor investments, namely João Mario and Gabigol, have been sold whilst a couple other lower profile purchase has started to show steady form – Joao Cancelo, Milan Skriniar, Borja Valero and Matias Vecino.
Best Player – Mauro Icardi
The Argentine forward is having a career season with 18 goals in 21 matches. He is featuring heavily in the Los Blancos’ summer transfer plans.
Quiet Achiever – Milan Skriniar
There are no words for the Slovak. Inter has been lambasted for squandering almost €30m on the defender. That sum is now dwarfed by his larger than life confidence backed by his performances. At 21 years old, he looks a senior to the Brazilian captain Miranda.
Worst Player – Eder
Needs to go. Offers pace and energy but very little else.
Manager – Luciano Spalletti
Brilliant tactician with much needed Serie A experience.
Team Grade – B+
The Biancoceleste are working miracles with very little at their disposal. Simone Inzaghi has breathed new life into the club that saw him as an emergency choice to Marcelo Bielsa’s snub. Energetic, impactful football is on display in at least one area of the historic Italian capital.
Best Player – Ciro Immobile
Easily the most improved player in Italy. The Italian front man is contending for the European Golden Boot and dragging the squad with him. He looks a different man this season.
Quiet Achiever – Sergej Milinkovic-Savic & Luis Alberto
Quiet may not be the word to describe the performances of either of these players. The former is now one of the most highly sought after midfielders in Europe. Think Radja Nainggolan with better close ball control. The latter is reborn this season after a disappointing spell at Liverpool and an okay season at Deportivo.
Worst Player – Nani
Horrible performances from the most experienced and highest profile player in the squad. A shadow of himself.
Manager – Simone Inzaghi
Pippo may be the brother that was the better player, but Simone seems to be in a different league as a manager. Good things do come to those who wait with humility.
Team Grade – A-
Coming off a season where they finished second with a club record points total, this season has definitely been a disappointment. The club is feeling the loss of Luciano Spalletti to Inter as much as Inter is feeling his arrival.
Best Player – Aleksandar Kolarov
Kolarov has turned back the clock and is the silver lining in Roma’s cloud of a season.
Quiet Achiever – Edin Dzeko
Dzeko is doing what Dzeko does best, score. It’s not as frequent as last year, but 1 in 2 is always a decent return. Deserves the attention Chelsea is giving him.
Worst Player – Patrik Schick
No one can deny his talent, except injury. Injury has denied his talent. Missed half the season to injury after being cleared of a heart problem. He still has not found his feet after a couple matches back. Zero goals from 3 starts and 7 substitute appearances is not enough for the club record signing (surpassing the fee paid for Gabriel Batistuta).
Manager – Eusebio Di Francesco
The former Roma player is back at his old stomping grounds. He has shown flashes of the promise he showed at Sassuolo. Needs improvement.
Team Grade – C –
Having lost three of their young stars to huge transfer away to Sevilla, Inter and Roma each, Sampdoria has actually improved. If they keep this up Marco Giampaolo deserves all the credit.
Best Player – Fabio Quagliarella
The veteran forward is the gift that never stops giving, and his return of 16 goals and 5 assists in 21 matches is testament to that. That’s one goal contribution per game.
Quiet Achiever – Lucas Torreira
The little Uruguayan is teeming with tenacity, grit and technique. He keeps things ticking in the centre of the park.
Worst Player – Matias Silvestre
Horrible Player. Offers very little apart from height.
Manager – Marco Giampaolo
He is being lauded for his contributions. Deservedly so.
Team Grade – B+