Marek Hamsik excelled himself yet again in the blue of Napoli on Sunday as he was the instrumental cog in the Partenopei’s victory. How many times that first sentence could be cut and pasted and applied to many an Azzurri game over the Slovakian’s stay in Naples is incredible.
The 26-year-old has offered his side 219 Serie A games, 63 goals and 43 assists since joining from Brescia in 2007. That’s in the league alone. His contribution cannot simply not be emphasised enough and his role in the team is of the highest importance.
In the prime of his career, Hamsik is capable of surpassing his tremendous achievements and personal statistics of last season as he drags Napoli towards a much sought after scudetto.
The 2013/14 campaign got off to the best of starts for Napoli as Rafael Benitez’s side downed a despondent Rossoblù at the San Paolo, the result for the time being putting Napoli atop the Serie A standings. The newly appointed Benitez was full of praise for Hamsik who yet again was outstanding.
“He’s a player who can make the difference”, stated Benitez after handing Hamsik the role of captain for Sunday’s encounter with Bologna.
“Giving him such a responsibility could contribute to enhance his self-esteem for the future,” the Spaniard continued.
Hamsik has been seen as the spiritual heart of this side and whilst his loyalty to the cause cannot be questioned, handing him the role of captain really puts him in the driving seat of this team and the decision makes perfect sense. If a heightened role in the squad can give the Slovakian even the smallest boost, the rest of Italian football should be quaking in their boots, if they’re not already.
Especially grateful for the support for on loan goalkeeper Pepe Reina who commended the fans for their ‘warm welcome’ and credited the atmosphere for giving him ‘great emotions’ and inspiring his performance.
It is important for Napoli to take advantage of their home crowd and continue the great form when hosting teams. You have to go back to December 16, 2012 when the Partenopei last lost at home in the league, ironically falling 3-2 at the hands of their most recent opponents Bologna.
As long as this feel good factor can be kept around Naples the better as the trip south to the San Paolo is one of the hardest any side can make.
Less pleasing news for Napoli’s fans was the incident involving Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine receiving stiches for an injury suffered after he fell on rocks in Capri and will likely be unavailable as the Partenopei head to Verona to take on the Flying Donkeys on match day two.
Perhaps the former Real Madrid man will be absent for longer as this dampens the excitement of victory as the marquee summer signing now is restricted to watching from the side-lines.
Not to end on a sour note however, “Napoli definitely aren’t at 100% at the moment,” was the message from Benitez and whilst the defence needs strengthening, that phrase should certainly send shudders down the spine of every coach in Serie A who dares step in front of this light blue steam train.