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Now it's official: Rafa's new Napoli is a serious Serie A title contender

For the first time since the days of Diego Maradona, Napoli looks like a serious title challenger. A magnificent performance balancing power and panache with belligerence and control saw off AC Milan at San Siro and laid down a marker in the club's quest for a first Serie A crown in 24 years.

As with the victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, the Partenopei’s win was set up in the tactical brain of Rafa Benitez. Powerful bursts at the beginning of each half led to both of their goals and could have garnered more, and even though a much-improved Milan caused them trouble for long spells of the game they looked extremely solid for the most part and the three points were richly deserved.

Benitez has earned every bit of praise that is coming his way at the moment for setting about the task of bolstering the Azzurri as a proper unit, but the players’ ability to take on his direction and produce their recent string of performances is every bit as important in the turnaround of Napoli as a tactical outfit.

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