Napoli’s players lifted the Coppa Italia while Juventus players and fans were left to wonder what would have happened had coach Antonio Conte started Gianluigi Buffon, Simone Pepe and Mirko Vucinic.
The Bianconeri were aiming to finish the season without a defeat in official matches but they failed in the last hurdle. In doing so, Juve’s players were unable to give Alessandro Del Piero, who started his last game in Bianconeri colors, a parting gift prior to his departure to another league outside the peninsula.
Juve’s first defeat in the season and Del Piero’s exit from Turin should not overshadow Napoli’s great achievement. This is the first trophy for the Partenopei in over two decades and the players did it by implementing Napoli’s blue print for the season: strike and strike hard on the counter.
Overall Napoli deserved the cup not because they played better but because the Bianconeri were subdued and proved once again they are wasteful in front of goal. On the other hand, Napoli’s trident of Marek Hamsik, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi proved to be decisive with the first two stars scoring the winning goals.
It is premature to consider Napoli as a legitimate threat to next year’s Serie A contenders because the club’s bench and defensive line desperately need reinforcements. This season the Partenopei struggled in Serie A because of the demands of the Champions League schedule which highlighted Napoli’s lack of depth.
For the Partenopei to compete next season, they must retain their star trio and add some quality on the bench and to their starting XI. There are two troubling rumors for the Partenopei faithful as growing reports indicate Lavezzi might be headed out the door while Cavani is wanted by a host of elite European clubs, including Juventus.
It will be hard for Napoli to resist the financial temptation in case a mega offer was presented by the likes of Manchester City or Real Madrid for the services of Cavani. Going back to the game, Napoli were diligent in defending and relied heavily on their counter-attacks while Juve, once again, displayed their superior yet toothless ball possession which yielded zero goals.
Napoli must be congratulated for sticking to what they do best and for lifting the trophy while coach Conte will be left to contemplate some important decisions prior to promising yet difficult season in 2012-13. The Bianconeri supporters will forever be thankful for the dedication, loyalty and efforts of Del Piero but his departure should make it easier on Juve to draft in some capable forwards who can find the back of the net.
Marco Borriello failed once again and despite scoring a crucial winner in the closing stages of the season, the former Milan striker does not fill well with Conte’s system. It is quite surprising how Conte preferred to start the ineffective Borriello and the mediocre Marcelo Estigarribia ahead of other players who could have been more decisive.
For Napoli this caps a wonderful ending to a season that looked promising at one stage before it unraveled following the European disappointment. For the Bianconeri, it marked the end of an era with Del Piero’s farewell and the first loss of the season.