Napoli Title Defence Currently the Worst in 60 Years as Osimhen and Co Continue to Struggle

Napoli are in danger of not qualifying for European football next season | Imago

Napoli Title Defence Currently the Worst in 60 Years as Osimhen and Co Continue to Struggle

Ayoola Kelechi 22:38 - 17.02.2024

After winning the 2022/23 Scudetto, Napoli have put up one of the worst title defences in Serie A history

Napoli's recent 1-1 draw with Genoa has not only disappointed fans but has also set the team on a path to an unwelcome record. As the current Serie A campaign unfolds, the reigning champions find themselves in a precarious position, potentially becoming the worst title defenders in nearly six decades. 

This alarming downturn comes after a season where Napoli seemed invincible, dominating Serie A and clinching the Scudetto with a significant lead.

A Stark Contrast to Last Season's Triumph

Last season, Napoli was the epitome of excellence in Italian football, securing the Serie A title with a commanding 16-point lead over their closest rivals, Lazio. Accumulating 90 points throughout the 2022-23 season, their performance was nothing short of spectacular. However, the current season tells a different story. With only 36 points from their opening 24 matches, Napoli sits in ninth place, a staggering 27 points behind league leaders Inter Milan.

Napoli's struggle is not unique in the annals of Serie A history, but it is certainly historic. Only five times before has a reigning champion finished the following season with a 20-point gap or more from the league leaders. This list includes Torino post-Superga disaster in 1949-50, Juventus in 1961-62, Bologna in 1964-65, and Milan in both 1996-97 and 2022-23. However, with the exception of Milan, these discrepancies occurred before the introduction of the three-point win system.

When adjusting for the three-point win era, Torino, Juventus, and Bologna's point differences inflate, placing Napoli's current performance as the fourth-worst ever for a reigning champion and the worst in 59 years. This comparison starkly highlights the depth of Napoli's current predicament.

 The Implications of Napoli's Struggles

Napoli's decline is not just a number in the history books; it reflects a broader issue within the club. The performance drop-off from one season to the next is alarming, and the current trajectory threatens to further tarnish their historical standing. With key players like Victor Osimhen struggling to replicate last season's form, the team's ability to turn their fortunes around is under scrutiny.

As Napoli continues to navigate through this challenging season, the contrast between their current struggles and last season's triumph could not be more pronounced. The prospect of finishing as the worst-performing reigning champions in Serie A history looms large. 

This scenario serves as a stark reminder of the volatility of football fortunes and the immense challenge of maintaining peak performance levels. For Napoli, the remainder of the season is not just about salvaging points but about restoring pride and proving that they can overcome one of the most challenging periods in their storied history.