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Rafa's overconfidence hurt Napoli again

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A show of arrogance and overconfidence at a time when preparation and certainty were needed doomed Napoli against Torino.

Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Watching Sunday's Serie A match between Napoli and Torino, one thing was painfully clear: there was little to no preparation made for this match.

You saw two defenders marking the same space while leaving acres unchecked around them, midfielders not coordinating their movement, and no supporting runs or interchange in attack. The press was disorganized and quickly abandoned, counter attacks were a mess, and the less said about Napoli's set piece management and organization in attack or defense, the better.

The entire display smacked of managerial arrogance, something that's plagued Napoli too many times both this season and last. It's as though Rafa Benitez just figured that he could throw out his best lineup, shrug, and let the rest of the details resolve themselves. Playing against a team that hasn't lost in the league since November, that's a shockingly inept and inadequate approach.

Sadly, it's an approach we've seen all to often since Rafa took the reigns at Napoli, and for all the things he does well as a manager, this is a curse that too easily undoes so much good work. With a not-easy opponent on the pitch and a massive opportunity available in terms of table standing, Napoli had to put out a hard-working and focused performance in order to assure a win. Instead, we got ... whatever that was.

Look, Rafa Benitez is a very good manager. That can't be denied. We've defended him plenty in the past when he's deserved it. Napoli wouldn't be where they are and achieved what they have with a lesser manager in charge these past 20 months. But he also does a lot of things and creates a lot of problems that are worthy of criticism. Yesterday's match? That was worthy of criticism.

Rafa can say that he didn't like what he saw from the players all he wants, but it was too painfully clear that any planning for the match was minimal, and the players didn't know how to react to what Torino was showing them on the pitch. That is a problem that is squarely on the manager and his staff, and it's something Napoli absolutely cannot afford to have happen again the rest of the season if they want to achieve their goals.

There's trophies there for the taking. The Coppa Italia and Europa League are both competitions that, for the time being, Napoli are positioned well in. Neither will be easy to win, but they can win them if they play their cards right. In Serie A, second place and a guarantee place in the Champions League next season is well within reach if they buckle down and work at it. Stop screwing this up for everyone, Rafa.