Sepe; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Mario Rui (Maggio 66′); Zielinski (Allan 72′), Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon (Ounas 79′), Mertens, Insigne
Sorrentino; Gobbi, Gamberini, Tomovic, Cacciatore; Hetemaj, Radovanovic, Depaoli (Bastien 76′); Castro; Birsa (Meggiorini 61′), Inglese (Stepinski 85′)
It was a shaky start to the match as Napoli struggled to hold onto possession and gave away a chance to Chievo as the ball bounced around players in the Azzurri box. Napoli would start to settle around a quarter hour into the match slowly build confidence and possession from there. Napoli pinned Chievo back for large portions of the half but were missing the final few touches to create any clear cut chances. The best opportunities came from outside the box with efforts from Hamsik, Insigne and Zielinski. Ghoulam’s absence was certainly felt but Mario Rui gave us reason to be hopeful moving forward. The half ended 0-0.
Napoli continued to enjoy possession in the second half but seemed to lack any real sense of urgency to score. The side looked tired and heavy legs led to mistakes on the ball especially by the attacking three. Sarri seemed unwilling to make any significant attacking changes and only brought on an attacking sub on the 79th minute when he replaced Callejon for Ounas; a player that should have probably been brought on much earlier. It was obvious the side was completely drained of energy at the end of the City match midweek. It was a bit lazy for Sarri not to recognize that before the match and then even worse for him to delay taking an action in the second half when it was blatantly obvious. Ounas is built to come on in matches like this. Giving him a little over 10 minutes to make a difference isn’t fair.
Sepe (6.25): Wasn’t asked to do much but did his job. Should have communicated better with Koulibaly to avoid a corner kick early in the first half. Almost got caught off his line by an incredible effort from over 50 yards out but tracked back well enough to cover it.
Hysaj (6.25): Didn’t see much action on the right side but did his job without excelling when called upon. Did well filling in for Mario Rui on the left when he made the switch.
Albiol (6.5): Held up well in the center of defense directing the line and winning aerial challenges.
Koulibaly (6.5): Strong perfomance from Kalidou as he didn’t give up much to the Chievo attackers.
Mario Rui (6.5): Looks a more natural fit to replace Ghoulam than Hysaj has but without the Algerian leftback, the fluidity on the left side of the pitch took a major hit. It will take him time to work up an understanding with Hamsik and Insigne but he gave us some reason to be optimistic. He’ll need to be a bit more aggressive with his support movement as he too often seemed to be late on his runs forward.
Zielinski (5.75): As per his usual, falls out of the match but then sprinkles in flashes of brilliance here and there like his long distance effort from over 30 yards out that challenged Sorrentino. Needs to do more to get involved in matches. He’s supposed to be the young, attacking midfield to spark the midfield but unfortunately plays too timid.
Jorginho (6): A bit sluggish to start but grew as the first half went on. Still had too many lazy passes for his standard.
Hamsik (6.5): Started the match off strong getting heavily involved in build up and creating some decent half chances for himself. One of the better Napoli players on the pitch today, but considering the overall standard set by his teammates, it doesn’t mean much.
Callejon (5.5): Quiet match along with the whole right side of the formation. The Spaniard can struggle when defenses sit back and park the bus. Would have been nice to see Ounas come on earlier.
Mertens (5.5): Struggled to fully get into the match and link up effectively with his teammates. He looked a tired man, especially in the second half when he made errors on the ball that we are not used to seeing from him.
Insigne (6.75): One of Napoli’s more consistently dangerous players. Tried to lead the team early in the match but fell out of the match as his legs tired; till was able to put a dangerous shot on goal around the 90th. Lacked support today.