Serie A news

Mazzarri backs Cavani to end goal drought

March 11, 2013
By ESPN staff

Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri has backed out-of-form striker Edinson Cavani to return to his goal-scoring ways.

Edinson Cavani Napoli penalty miss v Chievo
PA PhotosEdinson Cavani missed a second-half penalty against Chievo

Cavani, 26, has now gone eight games without finding the back of the net for the Partenopei, following their 2-0 defeat at Chievo.

The Uruguay international missed a penalty in Sunday's Serie A clash, but Mazzarri is sure the current situation will prove to be just a small blip in Cavani's season.

"There are moments when the ball just does not want to go in, look at the penalty and Christian Puggioni's save," Mazzarri said. "This sort of spell, where nothing goes right, happens every year."

Chievo goalkeeper Puggioni, who denied Cavani from the spot, revealed after the game that he had been studying the striker's penalties leading up to the clash.

"The training staff studied his penalties during the week and I chose the right angle and it worked out," Puggioni said. "He's a great champion and sportsman and I asked him for his shirt after the match. You don't save a penalty from that sort of player every day."

Cavani's recent drought has coincided with Napoli's drop in form. The striker had averaged more than a goal a game this season until the end of January, but Napoli, three points behind leaders Juventus at the time, have since slipped to nine points adrift of their title rivals.

Despite the worrying turn of fortunes, Mazzarri believes his side are still doing better than expected this season.

"At the start of the season, we talked about being in the top five, and we are second, we're having a good season and have six more points than at the same stage last season," he said. "It's frustrating when you slow down like this but I'm convinced that it we stayed together and, if we score a goal or two, things will quickly get better."