By Kevin Koczwara
Edinson Cavani didn’t set the world on fire when he played for Uruguay at the World Cup. In fact, he didn’t get much of a chance to show everyone just what he is made of because he had play third fiddle to the World Cup’s best player, Diego Forlan, and an attacking wing-man with world-class, Luis Suarez. But when Cavani got his chance to show everyone his attacking prowess, he made the best of it, scoring one goal and assisting on another in his six starts.
Cavani’s broke out onto the world’s big stage last season playing for Palermo. The 23-year-old helped Palermo work its way into a much prized UEFA Cup spot in the standings with his 13 goals in 34 appearance (31 starts), which shouldn’t have come as a surprise because he stepped up his game the season (08/09) before with 14 goals in 35 appearances.
This year Cavani has elevated his game to another level after making a move to Napoli in the summer. He has already scored an impressive 13 goals and 3 assists in 20 appearances for Napoli, keeping them in close contention with AC Milan for the Serie A’s top-spot — tied with Lazio for second. Cavani’s 13 goals combined with Marek Hamsik’s seven total 20 of Napoli’s 30 goals scored, making the Uruguayan a highly sought after commodity on the transfer market this winter. As he should be
Not only does Cavani contribute with goals, but he also works hard to get back and help out his defense when needed. His most underrated skill is his movement. Cavani plays alongside another hard-working and skilled attacker, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and the two partner up extremely well. Lavezzi does a lot of grunt work and earns Naploi a lot of its possession high up the field with his ball-control and ability to pass and play with his back to the goal, giving Cavani the opportunity to run in and attack. When Cavani does get going forward and making runs in behind the defense he does so with the intention of not only setting himself up, but also leaving space for Hamsik to run into for scoring chances out of the midfield. The movement of the three players in the attack is something to watch, it happens quickly, and anyone of them can score at any moment, but right now Cavani has to be the most feared, giving Hamsik plenty of chances on goal, chances the Slovakian rarely wastes.
If Napoli seal a top four finish this season and qualify for a Champions League spot, Cavani will have to keep finishing off chances and scoring goals for a club back on the rise again after going bankrupt in 2004. It’s been a long haul for Napoli fans the last few years — having to get back to Serie A after being demoted to the lowest level of Italian professional soccer, Serie C1. With Cavani in great goalscoring form, the fans can remember better days when Maradona helped make the club one of the world’s most feared and entertaining. Let’s hope the Uruguayan can keep it up.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesoccerguysonline.com.