Juventus
    Juventus
      11.02.2016 17:27 - in: Serie A S

      Partenopei away from the San Paolo

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      Maurizio Sarri’s men have been a formidable force both home and away this season. Juventus.com focuses on their form outside of Naples ahead of Saturday’s trip to Turin
      Happy travellers

      While it is common knowledge that Napoli have accrued the most points at home this season in Serie A (32), the league leaders also boast the division’s second strongest away record, having garnered 24 points in 12 matches on their travels, trailing only the Bianconeri (28 from 13).

      Given the Partenopei’s noticeable improvement on last year already, when they had 45 points overall at this stage of the 2014/15 season (compared to this term’s total tally of 56), interestingly the away days of Rafa Benitez’s vintage had yielded only three points fewer than Maurizio Sarri’s current crop after 12 matches on the road.

      If it was Napoli’s home record that let them down in the first half of the previous campaign, their away form too would deteriorate drastically from mid-February onwards, as they collected just four points from their final eight league excursions.

      Sarri, of course, will be wary of ensuring that history does not repeat itself, but he has plenty of reasons to be confident his charges avoid such a collapse (as illustrated in the following points), even if they were to fall this Saturday to what would be only a third loss on the road of 2015/16.

      Goals to the good

      Napoli’s 26 goals away from home (just one fewer than Juve’s 27) make them just one of two top-flight teams to have netted more than 20 times on their travels.

      Just as importantly, they have been mightily miserly in defence, conceding on 11 occasions (again bettered only by the Bianconeri’s nine).

      Bossing the ball

      The Partenopei’s average possession stake away from home (63.55 per cent) is the highest in the division. Sarri’s men also boast the league’s second best in front of their own supporters, with Fiorentina the only outfit ahead of them on that particular account.

      Despite playing against a Lazio team known for their high possession stakes at home, Napoli still saw almost 60 per cent of the ball in their last away match on 3 February.

      A major positive of seeing so much of the ball is that they have afforded the opposition fewer opportunities to hurt them with it. Indeed, Napoli have conceded 127 shots in total and just 32 on target, which is the lowest amount in the league, closely followed by Juve’s 34.

      Endless endeavour

      Napoli’s undoubted quality throughout their ranks is complimented by an admirable workrate across the entire park.

      Considering how much time they spend attacking the opposition (their 211 total shots and 73 on target are the highest in Serie A by some distance), it’s impressive that they have won back possession 825 times, second only to Udinese.

      A further sign of the side’s resilience is their ability to keep going until the final whistle. Over the course of the first 24 matchdays, they have scored a league-high 31 goals in the second half (10 of which in the final 15 minutes), whilst conceding only twice during the last quarter-hour (also a Serie A record this term).

      Settled side

      They say that a successful manager needs to know his strongest starting XI man for man and it would appear that Sarri has had very little doubt about how best to line up his charges this campaign.

      All of the players above have enjoyed at least 1,650 minutes (27 and a half hours) of game time, with Gonzalo Higuain, Marek Hamsik, Elseid Hysaj, Raul Albiol and Pepe Reina all present on the pitch for 2,000 minutes – the equivalent of over 22 whole matches.

      This consistency has also extended to the formation adopted by the former Empoli manager, who has persisted to great effect with the 4-3-3 ever since Napoli’s 5-0 thrashing of Lazio in mid-September.

      Napoli's strongest XI as set up against Empoli on 31 January.

      It ought to be noted that the three previous fixtures, in which Sarri experimented with playing Lorenzo Insigne in behind two strikers in a 4-3-1-2 had yielded just two points.

      Needless to say, they have never needed to look back since those darker days, with their current total of 56 points representing their best ever return from the first 24 matchdays of a Serie A season.

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