Juventus vs Napoli: Five Talking Points
Juventus edged home with a victory against title challengers Napoli 4-3 in a topsy-turvy encounter at the Allianz Arena.
Here is a look at the five pivotal talking points from the game.
5. Napoli's right wing gets exposed too much
There was plenty of energy across the offensive and middle third and those attributes came to the fore, especially when the Old Lady attacked down the left flank.
As many as three of Juventus’ goals came down the left wing.
The opener was scored after Costa scythed through the left flank on the break before teeing up Danilo.
Soon, in the 19th minute, Matuidi assisted Higuain for the second goal after indulging in one of his trademark midfield runs.
The third goal came about after the hosts worked the ball superbly on the left, with Matuidi releasing Alex Sandro. The Brazilian then pulled the ball back expertly for Ronaldo, who fired home from inside the box.
4. Juventus thoroughly dominate in the first half
After defeating Parma last weekend, the Bianconeri turned the screw against Napoli and they did so in some style.
The first half saw the hosts absolutely pound at the visitors’ defensive door and they breached it twice in the space of three minutes.
They controlled possession and starved Napoli of the ball, drawing them out beautifully and ultimately, opening the scoring courtesy the proverbial sucker punch.
Though the Old Lady managed only two goals in the first period, the score-line could’ve painted a much grimmer picture for the visitors.
Khedira was guilty of wasting a gilt-edged opportunity after being set up by Higuain while the German also hit the crossbar with a powerful shot.
3. Napoli strategy backfires heavily
Carlo Ancelotti sprung a surprise at the start of the game with the way he set up his side. Though the line-up suggested that the visitors were employing a 4-2-3-1 formation, the Italian tactician used the system with a slight variation.
Whenever Napoli had the ball, the shape quickly switched to a back-three with Faouzi Ghoulam and Jose Callejon playing as wing-backs with Di Lorenzo becoming the third centre-back, alongside Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly.
Ancelotti also deployed Fabian Ruiz higher up the pitch, in the number 10 role as Piotr Zielinski was tasked with manning the centre of the pitch.
However, the tactics backfired spectacularly with Napoli looking out of their depth in the first period.
On countless occasions, Zielinski’s lack of tactical awareness allowed the likes of Khedira and Matuidi to overrun Napoli’s midfield and that ensured the hosts controlled proceedings.
Moreover, the shunting from a back four to a back three led to numerous indecisive moments with defenders unable to endear themselves adequately to the strategy.
2. De Ligt suffers from a shocking home debut
Matthijs De Ligt dominated the back pages of the early part of the off-season with plenty of suitors lining up to seal his signature. In the end though, Juventus won that race and tied down the former Ajax skipper to a long-term deal.
Inevitably, the Dutchman had an enormous reputation to live up to. Unfortunately for him though, he did himself no favours with a shocking performance against Napoli on his home debut.
The centre-back started off calmly in the first half and barring a misunderstanding with Leonardo Bonnuci, De Ligt looked largely untroubled.
However, things went rather pear shaped in the second period as he was culpable for each goal the hosts conceded.
For the first goal, he got caught under the ball and was beaten to the free-kick by Manolas, who nodded past Wojciech Szczęsny.
The third goal highlighted a similar deficiency as Di Lorenzo got the better of the Dutchman to score the equaliser.
The most worrying of his mistakes though, was the error he committed for Napoli’s second goal.
One bad performance ideally shouldn’t impede him in his pursuit of greatness. Yet, one reckons that the Dutchman might’ve just wanted to enjoy a slightly more cordial home debut.
1. Koulibaly own goal sparks late drama
Napoli were thoroughly outplayed in the first half and were lucky to trail by only two goals at the break. However, the tactical changes in the second period meant that they established a foothold in the game and they catapulted an improbable comeback off that platform.
Yet, just when it seemed that Napoli had salvaged a draw, they conspired to undo their hard work, gifting Juventus the winner in stoppage time.
Pjanic clipped a seemingly harmless free-kick from the right side and each of the hosts’ attacking players looked off-side. Thus, at that juncture, there seemed to be minimal danger.
However, a moment of madness by Koulibaly, which culminated with him slicing the ball into his own net handed the Bianconeri the match on a platter.
Having said that though, it was a tad ironic that one of Napoli’s most trusted lieutenants was the one who let the match slip from its grasp.