Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughVillas Boas’ to meet end in Naples? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Villas Boas’ to meet end in Naples? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Villas Boas’ to meet end in Naples?

It was all a bit too easy in the end, Ezequiel Lavezzi carving his way through the crumbs of resistance that were remaining in a hap-hazard Fiorentina defence that had been exploited repeatedly on the break before-hand, so much so that Lavezzi’s curling effort to mark the conclusion of a lung-busting 40 yard run had a faint air of the apologetic about it. It was three without reply in Tuscany, Napoli’s fourth away win of the season to go above Inter Milan’s ramshackle outfit that lurches from debacle to debacle, the latest being a 0-3 home defeat to Bologna.

Of course, this will fire an ominous warning side to Chelsea who travel to Naples on Champions League duty on Tuesday night, with Andre Villas Boas seemingly edging ever closer to the brink of joblessness this will be the most unwanted appointment for the Portuguese. Chelsea face an FA Cup tie at home to Birmingham at Saturday lunch-time with expectation weighing in Villas Boas’ favour, before the visit to the Stadio Sao Paulo where Napoli have not been beaten in European competition since a 0-1 reversal to Eintracht Frankfurt in the medieval age of 1994.

The glistening return to form of Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani will not be welcome to the Chelsea camp that have worryingly been graced with the foreboding presence of Roman Abramovich over the past weeks and the question mark above the manager’s head that becomes more omnipresent with every passing day. Cavani’s spectacular form, 20 goals from 34 matches including 2 tonight in Tuscany making it 8 in his last 9 games, suggests he will provide the most transient threat to Chelsea’s back-line that has been disconcerting over the course of an underwhelming season at Stamford Bridge. Compound that with the telepathic understanding between the majestic Hamsik and the tireless Lavezzi behind him, so obviously on display with Cavani’s 3rd minute goal in the Artemio Franchi, and then it becomes a hugely difficult obstacle for Villas Boas’ longevity.

Some solace will be found in Napoli’s own unconvincing domestic form, they had gone five without a win before Monday’s 2-0 victory over Chievo and they lie four points behind the final Champions League spot occupied by Udinese, but in Europe they have been a different animal. Their strict adherence to the counter-attack saw them produce two entertaining displays against the machine-like Bayern Munich and ultimately progress at the expense of big-spending Manchester City and Spain’s Villarreal in what was an extremely tough group. Chelsea having only kept one clean sheet since December 3rd and being on a poor run of four without a win, the holy trinity of Naples, right back on the most potent of form, looms like a spectre on the blue horizon.

It wasn’t the most assured of performances in Florence on Friday by Walter Mazzarri’s side, La Viola managed to create chances through direct play centring around their target man Amauri and the quick feet of Sloven Jovetic, but it was dealt with by the quick spring of the counter attack that comes so naturally to the Partenopei side. The Swiss duo of Gokhan Inler, the understated midfield work-horse and Blerim Dzemaili, preferred this time to main-stay Walter Gargano, sat neatly in front of the triumvirate of central-defenders that were shorn of Hugo Campagnaro early on through injury. His solidity will be a miss, but his withdrawal for Gianluca Grava had an air of precaution about it and he will be likely to re-join Paulo Cannavaro and Miguel Britos in that back three that dealt well with the threat caused by Juan Vargas and Matija Cassani from wide areas for the Gigliati.

Fiorentina’s only real chances were forged from set-pieces as Napoli, minus Campagnaro and regular goal-keeper Morgan De Sanctis, were missing any evident communication and leadership, but anaemic approach play in open phases made it all too easy for Mazzarri’s team to soak up and launch the ferocious burst of Cavani who rammed home goal two with an example of unerring finishing that has attracted the interest of virtually every club in Europe. His exploitation of the channels defies anybody who labels him a one-dimensional striker as he provided chances for the breaking Andres Dossena and then the efficacious Lavezzi with luscious cross-field balls from wide positions. His stock is undoubted; his brace tonight making it 51 goals from 78 games in two seasons for the 25 year old Uruguayan in what is a phenomenal scoring record.

Of course, only a fool would write Chelsea off here before the tie has even seen a kick, they still have marvellous European pedigree in the array of stars they possess, more-so even than Napoli who are still in their infancy as a modern-day Champions League unit, but this provides a severe litmus-test as to the true worth of their young manager who has so far fared no better under the bitter cloud of Jose Mourinho than any of his ever-growing line of predecessors. With Champions League qualification hinging on a relentless fight for fourth in the Premier League and failure spelling disaster in the most luminary of ways at Stamford Bridge, Villas Boas looks to be going the same way as Carlo Ancelotti who provided the Premier League and the FA Cup in a two year stint. That is of course, he does not spring the miracle of delivering Abramovich the holy-grail that even his mentor could not provide, but that task starts as daunting as they come, with Napoli, and their holy-trinity, in-waiting at the fortress Sao Paulo.

Adam Gray @AdamGray1250

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