Napoli 0- 1 Juventus Match Summary
The calm before the storm was evident in the opening minutes at the San Paolo with a hostile atmosphere. The first half saw Napoli and Juventus eager to get their emotions going on the field. Gonzalo Higuain drew first blood and opened the scoring in the 12th minute with an offensive rush inside the box to poke it passed Reina. Starting from a bad pass by Insigne, Juventus sparked a counter attack as the Napoli defense failed to shift and cover Higuain’s mobility into space. This silenced the crowd as Higuain put the dagger into the hearts of Napoli fans celebrating after his epic transfer away from sunny Naples in 2016. Also, Juventus weathered the storm but both teams played average and showed many signs of sloppy offensive and defensive plays. Napoli responded with a few attacking chances with a few deadly strikes by the attacking trio but none of them were able to beat Buffon. Juventus lined up well defensively playing eleven men behind the half, not giving Napoli much room to work with in the final third.
The second half saw Napoli taking advantage of Juventus sitting on their heels with a plenty of offensive chances but did not test Buffon much as Napoli only registered six of their twenty-seven shots on goal. Although Napoli retained the majority of the ball possession at 67%, they did not capitalize on their breakthroughs and proved to be difficult to penetrate the Bianconieri’s defense in finding an equalizer. The final third continued to frustrate the Partenopei as they were unable to generate any offensive flow or real threats on goal during the match.
Juventus handed Napoli’s first loss of the season considering their recent beautiful play throughout Europe. Also, Juventus was not heavily superior as in previous years and did not perform that much better. Allegri’s men played a perfect match away from home with a dry unappealing style of maintaining the counter attack and capitalized only once from four shots on net, holding on to a one goal lead which made the difference. Moving forward, ADL might want to spend in the January transfer window to find a top striker in these marquee matchups as the short height of Mertens was inefficient against the towering defense of Chiellini and Barzagli. Also, this is a wakeup call for Sarri’s players that the Scudetto is still a long shot away from being won and that failing to qualify for the next round in Champions League would be beneficial to emphasize their focus on Serie A.
Reina (6.5)- made a key save on Higuain in opening minutes but could have done better on his goal. Made two spectacular saves in the second half that could have easily put Juventus back on the score sheet.
Hysaj (5) – played good at the back end but forced many hopeful uncompleted passes in Juventus’s final third.
Albiol (5.5)- sloppy defensively at times but stood his ground keeping Dybala in check.
Koulibaly(6)- Solid defensively but made mistake on defensive line shift in covering Higuain before his goal.
Rui (6.5) – made very good link up plays putting in many crosses into the box on offensive rushes but slow to come back at times. Received yellow card for professional foul on Douglas Costa in second half.
Allan (5.5)- was forceful in the midfield early on winning a lot of balls in center field but also gave up crucial possession at times.
Jorginho (5.5) – maintained possession when needed but not did not mount any significant pressure.
Hamsik (4.5)- dangerous long range shot in the 17th minute forcing a corner kick but not involved much in the action throughout the match . Perhaps the media hype all week regarding the opportunity to tie Maradona’s goal record got the best of him.
Callejon(5)- created more offensive opportunities in second half but seemed flat footed for the majority of the match.
Mertens(5)- had very little impact in first half and had no service provided at his feet to make any real threats throughout the game.
Insigne (6) – quite start but had glorious opportunities in front of goal, including a menacing shot and header in first half. However, there was nothing spectacular that we’ve seen in recent games from the Neapolitan. Seemed to have a leg injury in the final minutes leading up to his substitution.
Zielinski (5.5) – made some nice passes especially the one to insigne on far left side but struck it wide past the goal.
Ounas (5) – created more offensive rushes once he came on and tried to find an equalizer.