Napoli – Fiorentina: Napoli struggles in 4-4-2, but still eke out win against Fiorentina (1-0)

After a first half that saw both teams have some structural issues in possession, it was Napoli that eventually figured it out and scored a deserved late winner.

Fiorentina started this game with a perfect record, winning both of their first two matches, the 6-1 battering of Chievo Verona standing out in particular. They did not play in Serie A’s opening weekend due to the collapsing of the Ponte Verdi.

Napoli opened the season with six points from three games. Their only defeat came away to Sampdoria (3-0), where they conceded three goals from three shots on target. Napoli’s coach Carlo Ancelotti had changed his formation to 4-4-2 a couple of times in-game this season. Against Fiorentina, he started with it.

4-4-2 was the standard formation in football for a couple of decades. It can remind you of a time filled with iconic striker-duo’s, wingers that played on the touch-line and full-backs that whipped in one cross every three matches. This old school formation is not seen that often anymore, because nowadays teams like to play with more than three lines in possession and try to occupy the valuable space just behind the striker. But when utilized with two wingers who come inside and act as attacking midfielders, it still has a place in the modern game.

This is also how Napoli went about their business. The striking partnership of Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne was supported in possession by Piotr Zieliński and José Callejón, while Allan and Marek Hamšík played as the controlling midfielders. Fiorentina formed a 4-1-4-1 against it in defense.

Napoli’s base formation in possession. The wingers had a . . .

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Erik Elias (25) is co-founder and chief editor of Between The Posts. Dutch, so admires Johan Cruijff and his football principles, but enjoys writing about other styles as well. Former youth coach. Scout. 'Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.' [ View all posts ]

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