After storming into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 5-0 aggregate win over Eintracht Frankfurt, Napoli reminded everyone of their 2022/23 domestic dominance with a comprehensive display at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino on Sunday afternoon.
The Partenopei also discovered that their route to the final in Istanbul could be blocked by Serie A rivals AC Milan and Inter – should the Nerazzurri navigate themselves past Benfica – but after extending their lead at the top of the table to 21 points on Matchday 27, will fear neither.
Torino had kept consecutive clean sheets heading into the game, but Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia gave Napoli a two-goal half-time lead, that doubled by the final whistle, as a second for the Nigerian striker and a Tanguy Ndombele strike secured a comprehensive 4-0 win.
Napoli could surpass Maradona’s legacy
When Napoli stormed to the front of the Serie A pack at the beginning of the campaign and now await their crowning as champions, many discussed the relevance of the achievement in comparison to the Diego Maradona-inspired titles of the late 1980s, but often place that above this triumph.
However, with Luciano Spalletti’s side amongst the most in-form in Europe, clinching the continent’s most prized piece of silverware is a legitimate target, and aided by the Scudetto set to be wrapped up in record time – no team has ever had a 21-point advantage over second place with 11 games to play.
With Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia in such devastating form, Napoli will now be considered one of the favourites for the Champions League, and it would have to be considered a bigger accomplishment than what they achieved with Maradona, such is the final disadvantage across European football.
When Osimhen soared above his markers to head home the opener on nine minutes, the Partenopei extended their record as the team that has scored the most goals from corner kicks in Europe’s top five championships. The goal took Napoli to an impressive 15 from the corner quadrant and have an equally impressive record at the other end of the pitch, conceding just one corner kick goal in Serie A, which is the second-best record in Europe.
Napoli have know kept seven consecutive clean sheets away from home for the first time in Serie A, highlighting how important their defensive resolve is to this astonishing charge to the Scudetto. However, goalkeeper Alex Meret was forced into a wonderful reaction save from Samuele Ricci on 22 minutes to deny the Granata, but the Partenopei did ride their luck when Antonio Sanabria fired the parried effort into the foot of the goalpost.
Napoli prepare for Milan mauling
With an international break giving some brief respite before the final sprint to the end of the campaign, coach Luciano Spalletti has plenty of time to plot the downfall of reigning champions AC Milan domestically and in Europe.
Having had their weaknesses exposed during the embarrassing loss to Udinese, the Rossoneri have every reason to fear Napoli when they head to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Matchday 28, where the free-scoring duo of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia should terrorise the Milan defence.
As well as being out of sight in Serie A, the Neapolitans have the luxury of fixtures against struggling Lecce and Hellas Verona being squeezed between their two-legged Champions League ties. This shoudl afford Spalletti the opportunity to keep his side’s most important players fresh and inflict a devastating defeat to the seven-time European champions.