Dazzling duo Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have Napoli dreaming after starring in a five-goal massacre of Juventus which made them clear favourites to claim a first Serie A title in over three decades.
Luciano Spalletti’s team have bewitched much of Europe with their all-action football this season and the way his two star attackers combined to destroy Juve on Friday night and secure a nine-point lead on champions AC Milan suggests that this time southern Italy’s biggest club are the real deal.
Osimhen took his league tally to 12 with a brace, while Kvaratskhelia netted his ninth of the season in all competitions and had a hand in all the others as Juve and their eight-match winning streak were blown away in Naples.
The pair set up each other’s goals with the crowning moment Kvaratskhelia’s inch-perfect cross which allowed Osimhen to head in Napoli’s fourth midway through the second half at a packed, and delirious Stadio Maradona.
On Sunday daily La Repubblica crowned them “the goal twins”, the same nickname given to Roberto Mancini and recently deceased Gianluca Vialli who shot Sampdoria to their one and only league title in 1991.
Napoli last won the Scudetto the previous season, at the tail end of Diego Maradona’s reign in Naples before he was chased out of Italy in disgrace.
Kvaratskhelia is the closest Napoli have come to replicating the Maradona magic, his seven league goals matched with as many assists and an air of attacking menace which has taken his team to another level.
“He’s an extraordinary player, the best of the lot, the most complete,” said Spalletti on Friday.
“In some situations he’s simply devastating and he’s got the courage to try things out.”
Meanwhile the astonishing form of Nigeria striker Osimhen has made him look like the club’s best centre-forward since Edinson Cavani.
On fire Osimhen
The 24-year-old has scored 11 times in as many games in all competitions since returning from a thigh injury in mid-October, and Spalletti thinks there is even more to come.
“Osimhen is such a great striker. The potential he has is scary, I’m excited to see what he can do in future,” Spalletti said.
“He still has a remarkable amount of room for improvement.”
The one negative note for Napoli is that they will not have their hardcore fans following them away from home after they were barred from travelling for two months on Saturday.
The ban was put in place after serious clashes between Napoli’s ultras and their Roma counterparts last weekend, a mass brawl at a service station which temporarily shut down one of Italy’s most important motorways.
However apart from April’s trip to Juve, Napoli’s remaining clashes with Italy’s big boys all come at home, where supporters are packing out the stands and making a terrific noise in the hope of history.
If Napoli won the title it would also be a huge personal victory for Spalletti, a respected coach and colourful character who however has the reputation of not being able to get his teams over the line when the pressure is on.
Last season Napoli were in the mix until April when a run of awful results led to the title race becoming an all-Milan affair in the final weeks.
That collapse, and the departure of a host of fan favourites in the summer, including Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea, led to a rebellion in which supporters pleaded owner Aurelio De Laurentiis to sell the club.
Instead on Friday De Laurentiis was seen bouncing in the stands along with the joyous fans who have in Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia two lethal weapons ready to fire Napoli to glory.
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