Chievo 0 – 0 Napoli | Match Reaction & Player Ratings

Napoli XI:
Sepe; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Mario Rui (Maggio 66′); Zielinski (Allan 72′), Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon (Ounas 79′), Mertens, Insigne

Chievo XI:
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.

Match Ratings:

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.


  1. Awful game. Maddening to watch…

    News before the game says Mertens was injured and/or unfit. Yet Sarri started him. He is running him to the ground. Callejon is also tired. Ghoulam is out so our attacking line up isn’t working anymore. All we can do is to hold the ball, and take a shot here, and a shot there hoping that the ball will some how went in. Sarri’s being stubborn and refusing to rotate is starting to cost us. True, our bench players aren’t same calibre as our starting 11 but all clubs faced this problem. How did throwing in Ounas when there’s only 10 mins left help? And Rui has barely played before starting after Ghoulam was injured. And the rest of the bench players have scrappy minutes here and there. Of course they are all rusty.

    On the bright side, we are still top of the league, but barely hanging on now.

    • I agree 100 % Players like Rog and Ounas certainly deserve to have more faith placed in them. Even Mario Rui performed well today and perhaps also demonstrated that he could have offered a hand to Ghoulam earlier. Squad rotation has always been an issue with Sarri but he’s always defended himself against criticism and insisted the squad is not tired. We’ll see if he has anything to say after today’s match.

      • He is delusional if he doesn’t think the squad is not tired. Just look at Mertens today. It’s so obvious. I will say even Hamsik is tired. And the next one to start to burn out is Inisgne who has started every single game and getting no rest. By the way, was Sarri also like that in Empoli, ie refusing to rotate?

        I think it’s clear now we have no choice but to exit Europe altogether. The squad played much better last season once we don’t have to play 2 games in a week.

  2. I would have given Sepe an N/A because Chievo did not even try to score. It was pathetic.

    This has been coming. We have dropped in sharpness the last few games.

    Here my thoughts:
    1. Mertens and Callejon were absent. There is no energy but other than the unproven and still very inexperienced Ounas we have no options.

    2. Mario Rui was ok but this was a harmless opponent and in attack he did not have anything to add. Our left side looked to lack something. Strinic looked much better. But hopefully Mario Rui can work on his positioning.

    3. Our three weakest first team outfield players are Hysaj, Allan, Callejon. We needed a right back and right winger yet ADL did nothing address that. He bought Inglese. The guy is never going to play for Napoli and rightly so.

    So the question is. Is Sarri a coach that cannot handle squad rotation because in that case despite the best football he plays he useless. We cannot afford to have 3 out of 12 points in CL and have players be out of steam at the start of the season. Or is it because the bench (especially wing backs and in attack) is just too weak?

    In any case it seems hard to see how we can win the league if things continue this way. We are scoring less and less since the Roma game and our players are just too tired not just because a lack of rotation but b cause of Sarri’s tactics.

    • On (1), the irony here is that Ounas is “unproven” precisely because Sarri doesn’t rotate and played him enough. You might recall he was very promising during pre-season. He could have been a useful “vice-Callejon”. But Sarri preferred to stick with Callejon who is already pass 30 and can’t play 2 games in a week every week.

      (2) – Agree. But again, Rui has barely played and was rotting on the bench. So what to expect now he is suddenly thrown into the midst?

      (3) I disagree on the part of Allan. I don’t think Allan is a bad player. His strength is as a defensive midfielder making tackles and this he doe exceptionally well, as long as he is not played out of position.

      Don’t get me wrong. Sarri is a good coach. But his lack of rotating is hurting us and he is stubborn and refuse to learn. Ounas could have started against weaker opponents or get substantial minutes on 2H in most games when we dominated. Rog should have played more often. Zelinski was doing well earlier part of the season but Sarri insisted on Hamsik. Maksimovic was a promising defender at Torino and yet has barely played as well. Tonelli was played so little that he is basically asking for a transfer now. I can go on and on. Maggio is too old so no blame on that. Giak… I actually don’t think he is that bad. He had a good campaign in Euro 2016. Perhaps it’s the age-related decline.

      Yes, I don’t think we will win the league. No, the players are tired because Sarri doesn’t rotate, more than anything else. Most likely the season will unravel in the second half. Unless there is reinforcement but I am not putting much hope in it.

  3. My argument will be that if we rotated more with what we have we would have less points. We rested Mertens against Shakhtar amd saw where that lead.

    Zielinski has been disappointing in all the games he stared. He is absent and sometimes shows flashes. Rog is the same so is Ounas. Sari sees them in training every day.

    I agree on Maksimovic and Mario Rui. They should have played more.

    But ither than that their is no depth.

    Compare to what Juve, Roma and Inter have on the bench.

    • I got your point. Starting our best 11 for most games ensure we have maximum points which is why we are top of the league. But the season is long and we will suffer later on as games piled up and our starting 11 are bound to get tired at some point. Now that our tired starting 11 have to also go for international duty, just watch that the dropping of points might accelerate after the international break. ( I wish I will be wrong and also hope Mertens can excuse himself since Belgium already qualified for world cup ).

      Yes Mertens should have started the Shakthar game but Sarri could have rested him for the Benevento game earlier. This is just wrong strategy on Sarri’s part. He opted to start Mertens against a bottom of the table opponent while starting a slow Milik against a UCL opponent.

      I think Rog, Ounas and Zelinski are better players than what you have given them credit for. Sure, they aren’t as good as our starting 11 but their only occasional flashes of brilliances was precisely because they don’t have much chance to proof themselves. Even if Sarri prefer his best starting 11, he could have sub them on earlier on instead of waiting for the last 15 to 20 mins.

      Lastly, I agree we do not have the same depth as Juve, Roma or Inter but it is ADL’s fault but Sarri could have managed it better.

  4. You can’t expect us to to be as deep as a team like Juve, they have more resources than us and players that are willing to go there to sit the bench, are not willing to do the same with us. That is something that will hopefully change as we increase our revenue and become a more respected side internationally. Could we have done more to help our swuad depth? Absolutely. Should Sarri be doing more with the depth he has? Up to this point it’s been hard to criticise the man as we’ve continued to collect points. However, not rotating the squad is something that will come to haunt you later in the season and today is was painfully obvious that some players were exhausted.

Leave a Reply