The ‘Calzona effect’ and De Laurentis’ 10 million bonus revitalize Naples before visiting Barça

It’s new, but not that new. It’s new Francesco Calzona because he has not been coach of Naples for even a month since he debuted with that draw with Barça (1-1) on February 21, but he knows the house perfectly due to his status as assistant coach of Maurizio Sarri (2015-2018) y Luciano Spallettiwith whom he shared the 2021-22 season.

He always acted as an assistant. Never as a boss like now. But his impact on the team has been almost immediate due to his great knowledge of the players and the innards of such a volcanic club. And it is a real effect not so much because of the results (five games, two wins, three draws and no defeats) but because it has reactivated stars who already had their minds beyond southern Italy.

Aurelio De Laurentiis, president of Napoli, during a Champions League match. / EFE

In addition, players have one more incentive. Aurelio De Laurentis, the volcanic president and owner of the Neapolitan entity, offers them 10 million euros if they eliminate Barça this Tuesday, as revealed by the Italian newspaper ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport, to keep their chances of qualifying for the World Cup alive. clubs that will be played in the United States in 2025.

In search of the Club World Cup

That amount would only be received if the team is among the 12 places that Europe has for this new competition designed by UEFA. But he needs, yes, to get Barça out of his way. 50 million euros are at stake, the money that each club receives for participating in that World Cup, where City, Chelsea, Madrid, Bayern, Dortmund, Inter, Parsi SG, Porto and Benfica are already present.

Xavi Hernández and Francesco Calzona greet each other before the start of Naples-Barça. / CIRO FUSCO

The Blaugranas also need to continue to the quarterfinals to express their hope of going to the United States and not miss out on the fortune that is at stake. Also waiting for Inter to kick Atlético out of the Champions League, which would facilitate their arrival in the club World Cup.

The connection of the stars

Calzona, meanwhile, has once again merged the African power of the Nigerian Victor Osimhenwho scored the goal against Barça in the first leg, with the ‘guadaniesco’ Georgian talent of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.And the Naples team that won the scudetto last season, built on that pair of extraordinary forwards, has had to turn to its past.

The formula for Rudi Garcia, who never understood the team or the club, and explored in vain the formula of Mazzarri, An old coach from the old ‘calcio’, Calzona has chosen the path of common sense. No tactical inventions.

Osimhen shoots into the Torino goal in the duel played at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium. / La Presse

They travel with the traditional 4-3-3, which has provided their players with a security cushion, capable even in their debut of surviving a good opening hour from Barça at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium. Then, out of nowhere (a shot on goal, a goal) he found Osimhen’s reward.

“He’s very young, but he already looks like a veteran. If he doesn’t get lost along the way, Lamine Yamal will be a top player in the world”

Francesco Calzona

— Naples coach

This is how the veteran Calabrian coach (55 years old) has also built his excellent work with the Slovak team, which he has guided to the next European Championship in Germany. He combines both positions because in both places his pragmatic sense of football is valued.

‘Kvara’s’ response

“The team has taken a big step. I ask the players for order and they are giving it to me,” says Calzona, who in his debut against Barça already made important decisions. With the score 0-1, and after Lewandowski’s goal (m. 60), he removed Kvaratskhelia from the field and put on Lindstrem (m. 68). The Georgian player got angry, although his response later lived up to what his new coach asked of him.

Kvaratskhelia celebrates his goal, which was 1-0 for Napoli against Torino, at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium. / @sscnapoli

He came up dry against Cagliari (1-1), scored two goals in the rout of Sassuolo (1-6), scored another in the victory over Juventus (2-1) and scored the goal for Naples in the draw against Torino (1-1). In other words, ‘Kvara’ has four goals in the last three games. Calzona’s message resonated with that exquisite Georgian striker, who serves as a barometer to verify the level of Barça’s rival this Tuesday.

“He’s very young, but he already looks like a veteran. If he doesn’t get lost along the way, Lamine Yamal will be a top player in the world,” said the Italian coach in the Montjuïc press room.

Francesco Calzona, the coach of Naples, in the duel that his team won against Juventus (2-1). / Cesare Abbate / Efe

If Kvaratskhelia smiles, Osimhen, for whom Paris SG pines in the new life without Mbappé, is much happier. “Victor is returning to his best level after being away for a month for the Africa Cup,” argued Calzona, aware that these two attacking prodigies may have little future in southern Italy because the big European clubs want to take them next year. summer.

Solve defensive problems

The Naples coach, in love with tactics, obsessive and perfectionist as he always was since his beginnings two decades ago at Castiglionese, is tormented that he has not yet been able to close his goal. He has conceded in each of the five games. Few goals (five and one per game), but he can’t quite find the solution to that problem.

A student of Sarri, current coach of Lazio, whom he has known for decades, since his beginnings at Tegoleto, he has a playful vision of the game. “There are people who pay admission to watch 90 minutes, not for two goals that come from episodic players. For me, football is entertainment, you have to do everything to entertain the public,” Calzona told ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’. On Tuesday it will be seen in Montjuïc if he has fun and gets close to 10 million euros or Xavi’s Barça kicks him out of Europe.

2024-03-12 06:25:25
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