The stunning duo Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have Napoli dreaming after staging a five-goal massacre of Juventus that made them clear favorites to claim a first Serie A title in more than three decades.
Luciano Spalletti’s side have wowed much of Europe with their action-packed football this season and the way their two star attackers combined to destroy Juve on Friday night and secure a nine-point lead over the champion AC Milan suggests that this time around the biggest club in southern Italy is The Real Deal.
Osimhen took his league tally to 12 with a brace, while Kvaratskhelia scored his ninth of the season in all competitions and featured in every other as Juve and their eight-match winning streak were crushed in Naples.
The pair set up each other’s goals with Kvaratskhelia’s perfect cross in climactic moment allowing Osimhen to head Napoli’s quarter midway through the second half in a packed and raucous Stadio Maradona.
On Sunday, the daily La Repubblica crowned them “the goal twins”, the same nickname given to Roberto Mancini and the recently deceased Gianluca Vialli, who shot Sampdoria to their only league title in 1991.
Napoli last won the Scudetto the previous season, at the end of Diego Maradona’s reign in Naples before he was expelled from Italy in disgrace.
Kvaratskhelia is the closest Napoli have come to replicating Maradona’s magic, his seven league goals equaled with as many assists and an air of menace in attack that has taken his team to another level.
“He is an extraordinary player, the best of all, the most complete,” Spalletti said on Friday.
“In some situations it’s just devastating and he has the courage to try things.”
Meanwhile, Nigerian striker Osimhen’s astounding form has made him 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 believes there is still more to come.
“Osimhen is a great striker. The potential he has is scary, I’m excited to see what he can do in the future,” Spalletti said.
“He still has a remarkable amount of room for improvement.”
The only negative note for Napoli is that their hardcore fans will not be following them away from home after they were banned from traveling for two months on Saturday.
The ban followed serious clashes between ultras from Napoli and their counterparts from Rome last weekend, a massive brawl at a gas station that temporarily shut down one of Italy’s most important highways.
Apart from the April trip to Juve, however, Napoli’s remaining clashes with the Italian greats come at home, where fans fill the stands and make a lot of noise in hopes of making history.
If Napoli were to win the title, it would also be a great personal victory for Spalletti, a respected manager and colorful character who nonetheless has a reputation for not being able to push his teams over the line under pressure.
Last season, Napoli were in contention until April, when a run of terrible results led to the title race becoming a Milan affair in recent weeks.
That collapse and the departure of a host of fan favorites in the summer, including Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea, led to a rebellion in which supporters pleaded with owner Aurelio De Laurentiis to sell the club.
Instead, De Laurentiis was seen bouncing in the stands alongside the cheering fans who have in Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia two lethal weapons ready to shoot Napoli to glory on Friday.