Not the Ideal Start to Napoli's CL Campaign

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    Profile photo of Mark Manganiello
    Mark Manganiello

    Napoli started off the first half on the wrong side of the foot. Shakthar was the more threatening side creating plenty of chances giving the Napoli defense trouble early on. With very little to show for offensively, Napoli spent the large majority of the 1st half on their heels. There were also signs of weakness in the lineup as Hamsik played his worst game in CL and this season thus far. Although this was due to him not being match fit, he tried to provide some offense linking up plays with Milik and Insigne with support from Diawara and Zielinksi. The dark moment arrived in the 15’ minute when Napoli showed poor defending as Shakhtar’s Forward Taison lined up his shot and scored from the top of the box beating Reina bottom right corner. Even though the ball was perfectly placed on his foot from a flick on, Napoli could not efficiently keep up and box out the attacking play. Milik and Insigne showed flashes of attacking chances but they were not enough to test Shakhtar’s keeper and put minimal pressure on their back line.
    In the second half, Napoli showed signs of improvement as they started to put on more pressure but it was again not enough to trouble Shakthar. Adding to Napoli’s frustration came a header by Ferreyra in the 58’ minute from a cross due to hasty defending and catching Reina off his line. Once Hamsik was subbed off in the 59’ minute, Mertens came on to replace him and showed significant attempts of trying to change the outcome of the game. Right from the get go he displayed a couple of shots on target within the first five minutes of coming on. Mertens managed to draw a penalty off a harsh tackle by Shakhtar defender Stepanenko which gave him a yellow card for the foul committed. Milik then capitalized on a penalty with a low driver into the bottom left corner. Shortly after in the final third, Napoli showed signs of mounting more pressure and creating chances between Callejon, Insigne, and Milik but could not solve Pyatov. Apart from the final third, Napoli put on a poor display and failed to conduct the beautiful Sarri style of possession football that fans are accustomed to watching. The important thing for Napoli is to forget about this result as it is still early on in the group stage and they can quickly turn things around. Off to Naples we go for their next Champions League matchup against Feyenoord on Tuesday September 26th. Lastly, this match revealed that Mertens is still proving to be lethal in front of goal creating plenty of chances and can be the player to quickly turn the tempo of a match even when coming off the bench.

    Profile photo of Mark Manganiello
    Mark Manganiello

    Player Ratings:
    Reina 7- Made some key saves especially in the first half that could have made Shakhtar lead by 2 goals. However, he came way to high off his line in the second goal.

    Hysaj- 7 Solid defensively. Made smart decisions with the ball at his feet the majority of the time.

    Albiol 6- Did not play his best game. Turned over the ball too many times and defended poorly at times.

    Koulibaly 6.5- showed flashes of solid defending but came off too aggressive committing bad fouls early on.

    Ghoulam 6.5- Solid in the second half but did not play that well in the first half. Many crosses did not connect well except off of corner kicks which Napoli had plenty of opportunities to score from

    Zielinski 6.5- created average opportunities but improved once Martens came on

    Diawara 6.5- struggled a lot with the ball at his feet to make passes in the first half but improved throughout the game especially in the final third.

    Hamsik 5.5- Did not seem match fit. His worst game of the season and CL thus far. Created minimal attacking opportunities

    Callejon 6- non existent in the first half. Tried to play some of the usual tight back door plays but had a glorious opportunity from that in the second half but could not put it passed the keeper.

    MIlik 7- Played average but did not always get the service from the midfield especially in the First half. Was the best player Napoli player in the first half. Unfortunately could not find the back of the net on some chances in front of goal but scored a crucial penalty that will helped to narrow the gap.

    Insigne- 6.5 Was not his best game but created some chances with good crosses to but failed to score on multiple occasions

    Allan (sub) 6.5- came on as sub helped defensively but was not that noticeable
    Martens (sub) 7.5- Best Napoli of the Match. Showed intensity on multiple occasions and could have knocked in a couple of chances. Was the game changer and sparked Napoli’s offense in the final third by drawing a penalty.

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