The last four seasons have seen Juventus thoroughly underline their dominance of Italian football. In each campaign of Max Allegri’s tenure, the Old Lady has lifted both the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia, comfortably vanquishing their domestic rivals in both competitions.
Reaching two Champions League finals along the way, the Coach has steered them to incredible success and, at the halfway point of 2018/19, their time at the summit seems set to continue for some time yet.
Indeed, after 19 league games, the Serie A betting favourites already enjoy a healthy lead at the top of the table and have won all but two of those fixtures after Genoa and Atalanta managed to hold them to a draw.
At 1/14 (Betway), another Serie A title appears almost certain, which – combined with Juve’s burning desire for European success – might conversely increase the chances of someone else tasting Coppa Italia glory.
The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo has brought with it raised expectations when it comes to the Champions League, and a desire to capitalise on the final peak years of the Portugal international’s career could see the domestic cup relegated to an afterthought.
Should that prove to be the case, perhaps no club is better placed to capitalise than Napoli.
Sitting second in the Serie A standings, the Partenopei trail Juve by nine points, but are 13 points ahead of AC Milan in fifth place, meaning they are all but guaranteed to secure Champions League football again next term.
That alone would be enough to tip them for Coppa Italia success, but a number of other factors add to the feeling that they could be the ones to end Juve’s run of league-and-cup doubles.
The appointment of Carlo Ancelotti as Coach is certainly among those, the 59-year-old boasting a proud record in knockout competitions at every previous stop in his career.
In addition to the league titles he won in England, France, Germany and Italy, he led Milan (twice) and Real Madrid to Champions League glory, while his two-year stint at Juve saw “Carletto” secure victory in the now defunct Intertoto Cup.
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From there he joined the Rossoneri, claiming the only Coppa Italia triumph of his career in 2003 before adding one Supercoppa Italiana, two UEFA Super Cups and the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup.
At Chelsea he tasted FA Cup glory and claimed a Community Shield win before adding another win in the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup at Real Madrid, then two DFL-Supercup victories with Bayern Munich.
"Carlo has enjoyed success everywhere as a coach and has won the Champions League three times," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the German club’s website shortly after appointing him as Coach back in 2016.
"He is a calm, balanced expert, who knows how to deal with stars and favours a multifaceted style of play.”
Ancelotti has certainly brought that different approach to Napoli, utilising the best parts of predecessor Maurizio Sarri’s free-flowing approach but making to subtle changes to improve their chances of tangible success.
Indeed, for all the new Chelsea boss won admirers during his time at the Stadio San Paolo, they have not collected silverware since Rafael Benitez departed three years ago.
While Sarri named the same starting XI as often as possible, Ancelotti took a different approach, constantly resting and rotating his players, something that should keep them fresh as the latter stages of the Coppa Italia approach.
The new boss should also benefit from the experience within his squad, with seven members of the side who won the same trophy back in 2014 still at the club including Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne who both scored in the final.
The latter of that duo was quickly won over by the former Chelsea manager, as he explained in an interview with the Corriere dello Sport newspaper. “I’m happy with the arrival of Ancelotti who is a great Coach and has won a lot,” Insigne said back in August.
“Seeing him at Napoli is incredible, but at the same time we have to give credit to Sarri for the three years he had here.”
His past record speaks for itself, but the current Napoli Coach insists he only ever looks forward.
“In football, as in anything, you must not stand still,” Ancelotti wrote in his book Quiet Leadership – which was co-authored by business professor Chris Brady and former Chelsea sports director Mike Forde.
“Never believe that the tactics you deploy today and that have brought you great success will continue to be effective tomorrow.”
That has seen him move away from the “Christmas Tree” formation he used at Milan and Real Madrid, instead often opting for a 4-4-2 framework that creates plenty of chances for his constantly rotating cast of forwards.
Insigne and Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik have scored ten goals each already, while Mertens has weighed in with 11 whilst adding no fewer than six assists in the central role he has made his own in recent seasons.
A last 16 clash against unfancied Sassuolo (7/1) awaits for Napoli, who would then go on to face either Milan or Sampdoria in the quarter-finals.
The draw means the Partenopei can avoid 10/11 tournament favourites Juve until the final, making Napoli an excellent prospect as outright winners of the Coppa Italia, an outcome available at a best-priced 15/2 with 10Bet.
Thanks to Carlo Ancelotti and a largely unchanged squad, that is a hugely tempting prospect.
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