WHAT WE LEARNED FROM NAPOLI VS JUVENTUS
What a frustrating performance that was. A night in which nothing seemed to work, losing in the worst way with a simple penalty kick and another mounting loss that puts another bump in the road towards another scudetto. In sum the first half was a very slow one, to say the least, what was most memorable was the constant tiki-taka between our center backs in the back, passing back and forth, most of us wondering when the ball would be moved up the field. In a choppy first half as well with Napoli giving up several fouls in its half. While I believe Ronaldo is and should be the primary free-kick taker on this team, it has become clear now there needs to be a second option. While Pjanic seemed to provide this in years past, now there seems to be no one willing to step up. We all appreciate Ronaldo's efforts almost anywhere else, it seems as though we can give up a lot of these free-kick chances when they come our way especially when down on the scoreboard.
As much as I think Chiellini didn't mean to hurt anyone when he put his hand back, that unfortunately gets called as a penalty nowadays. Harsh but, the response to this decision should have been to play like a team that was 1-0 down, instead we got a response like a team that thought it was 1-0 up. Pains to say we lost because of a penalty, showing that there was little else to Napoli's credentials to win the game. Had it not happened, it would be hard to say that either team deserved to win this game.
This match resurfaced a lot of the problems we have had in the team for the past few years. The strikers up down were very isolated, there was little if any linkup between them, and the midfielders were nowhere to be seen. This is why we saw a lot of slow passing in the back early on, not enough runs going forward. Once this becomes an issue this is when you start to see a lot of individualized efforts and this is what occurred constantly throughout the game. Chiesa doing long runs by himself, the same with Ronaldo and the same with Morata. Turning the page into the second half, Juve gained a dominant possession of the game with Napoli rarely if ever passing the halfway line. Lots of possession, but few chances. Ronaldo had the best chance of the night, but of course his shot from point-blank range going right into the hands of Meret. Meret was by far the best player on the pitch, he had key saves that ensured Napoli's shutout.
While this game wasn't bad from the defensive side, it was just not saved by the lack of chances. There was no creativity from the midfielders, there was far too much-individualized play, and the reality of some players like Bernardeschi, Bentancour, Rabiot, and Danilo having one of their bad days didn't help the cause. We must however turn the page and leave this behind, hoping that Milan or Inter slip in the upcoming games. We now immediately move on to the next big game, vs. Porto.