Napoli have finally broken their long-term mischance, clinching the Scudetto on Thursday night after coming from behind to manage a point against Andrea Sottil’s Udinese.
The flow of the game
The hosts fired in the opener less than a quarter of an hour into the game but Napoli found their important equalizer through Victor Osimhen in the second half. Udinese got the chance to go up in the 13th minute. Lazar Samardzic lofted a curling pass out to the left flank for Udogie. The midfielder dropped the ball into a deeper position in the box for Sandi Lovric, the latter taking position before picking out the far corner of Alex Meret’s goal with a fabulous finish.
Udinese almost doubled their lead a minute past the half-hour mark. With a wave of attack, Udogie got tripped by Rahmani. In an advantaged position, the ball fell to Lovric who smashed a powerful shot from well outside the box, forcing a save from Meret.
Just a few seconds later, it was Napoli’s turn at a chance. Eljif Elmas’ waved in a cross from the right into the box and Victor Osimhen rose to meet it, unfortunately sending the ball just wide of the goal.
Udinese had the first shot in the second half of play, however, not on target. Udogie and Lovric played a one-two before the latter rolled a pass out to Walace. The midfielder picked his position before sending a shot wide of the goal.
Ciucciarelli soon found the moment they had been waiting for all season long eight minutes past halftime. Elmas’ cross swung into the defence, Mathias Olivera’s header came up short, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s ball cut back in through the defence to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia who aimed a shot at goal. The ball fell to Osimhen via a deflection, the striker firing into the net amidst the traffic in the opposition box.
Luciano Spalleti’s men almost scored another in the 71st minute. Elmas scooped a through pass. The ball floated over Nehuen Perez with Piotr Zielinski latching onto it with a right-footed volley, punched away by Marco Silvestri.
The crowd was absolutely enraptured at the referee’s whistle as fans, players and coaches stormed the pitch to celebrate the club’s first title win in 33 years. Blue colors were in the air as the jubilations took off at Friuli.
Napoli owner, Aurelio De Laurentiis's speech(paraphrased):
“We awaited this moment for 33 years. When I arrived in Naples, I said I will bring the team to Europe in the first ten years and I met that earlier. I also said in the second ten years we were going to win the Scudetto and I was two years earlier”.
We’ve begun a new era and we hope to re-win next year and in the following years but right now we must win the Champions League because I think we were the strongest this year and just because the referee was not good twice, we were out. That is soccer, UEFA and the world. But we will retry next year and the following year again”.
Victor Osimhen: The man behind Napoli's success.
Largely accounting for a great portion of Napoli’s rocketing to the Scudetto this season is Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian has no doubt been the biggest asset to the award-scooping Ciucciarelli, courtesy of his 22 goals in 27 games in the Serie A. Osimhen has also recorded four assists across the board this season, coming behind only Khvicha Kvaratskhelia(10), Piotri Zielinski(7) and Mario Rui(6).
The forward was tipped to win the Ballon d’Or by some but a Champions League quarter-final exit and a no-show at the 2022 World Cup will hugely affect the 24-year old striker when the rankings are to be made later this year. He was also in the chase for the European Golden shoe before Erling Haaland unarguably snapped it up thanks to his goalscoring feats in the Premier League which have seen him produce 35 goals in 31 games in England’s topflight competition.
Napoli: Recalling the road
Napoli were riding high at the start of this reason, running roughshod over everything that came their way. Their Champions League opener saw them trash Liverpool 4-1 on September 7 and a couple of wind down the line spelt out Gli Azzuri as potential achievers for the 2022-23 season. Napoli only recorded their first defeat of the season after seventeen games, a 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield ending a thirteen-game winning streak for Spalleti’s side. Napoli remained unbeaten in the Serie A till the new year, when Inter beat them 1-0 on January 4 via Edin Dzeko’s 56th minute effort. The club returned to winning ways immediately after and Lazio were only the second team to defeat Napoli in the 2022/23 Serie A on March 3 by the same scoreline that Inter had.
An unlucky, difficult start to April saw Ciucciarelli concede two losses to AC Milan within the space of ten days, first a 4-0 defeat in the league before suffering a similar fate, a 1-0 loss in the Champions League which eventually got them eliminated after they could not find a winner in the second leg at Naples, playing out a 1-1 draw. Since the 1-0 loss at the San Siro, the Serie A champions-elect have only won one fixture out of five, a 1-0 triumph over Juventus and have recorded draws across four other games, including the 1-1 draw at Udinese which saw them lift the title. Napoli would play their first game as champions of the 2022/23 season against Fiorentina on May 7 at home, before travelling to Monza a week later. Spalleti and his men then meet Inter and Bologna before rounding off their high-flying season against Sampdoria on June 4.