Napoli win their first Serie A title for 33 years after draw at Udinese

Victor Osimhen celebrates scoring Napoli’s title-clinching equaliser (Reuters)
Victor Osimhen celebrates scoring Napoli’s title-clinching equaliser (Reuters)

Napoli drew with Udinese to take an unassailable 16-point lead at the top of Serie A and seal the league title for the first time since 1990.

Luciano Spalletti and his team thus become the first group since that led by Diego Maradona to be crowned kings of Italy, a 33-year wait for just the third league championship in Gli Azzurri’s history.

It perhaps would have felt particularly fitting to the club’s supporters had they done the job against Salernitana last time out on home soil in the renamed San Paolo Stadium – now the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona – but those taking part in the long-overdue celebrations will doubtless not mind that slight omission.

While the draw at Udinese came courtesy of top goalscorer Victor Osimhen to seal the trophy, it was a 15-game unbeaten run at the start of the season which marked out Napoli as title contenders and one of the most enthralling teams to watch around Europe this season – followed up by another run of 10 wins from 11 after the New Year as they surged clear at the top to succeed AC Milan as champions.

Spalletti’s feat is all the more impressive considering the overhaul of the squad in summer.

Club icons and long-serving faces departed including Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries MerteNs, Lorenzo Insigne and Fabian Ruiz. While Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been one of the most impressive players in the top flight, he has been one of several new key faces who have thrived including centre-back Kim Min-jae and central midfielder Frank Anguissa.

Striker Osimhen has also enjoyed a great campaign, scoring 22 times in the league and earning admiring glances from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with reports suggesting some may be ready to pay a huge fee to lure him away from Serie A in the close season.

Spalletti, meanwhile, has the first Serie A title of his coaching career, having already twice won the league in Russia with Zenit St Petersburg just over a decade ago. His only triumphs in his home nation until this point had been a pair of Coppa Italia wins with Roma in 2007 and 2008.

Napoli also reached the Champions League quarter-finals this season where they were surprisingly beaten by Milan over two legs, to set up a derby in the semis after Inter Milan also reached the final four by defeating Benfica.