Following a crushing 2-4 defeat to Roma last Saturday, Napoli needed to win at the San Siro to regain first place in the league. Sadly, the Partenopei were unable to do so. Napoli were in charge for the majority of the match, but failing to capitalize on multiple opportunities saw the match play out to a nil-nil draw.
The match started with a scare for Napoli as a bad pass from Reina almost cost them to go down within a minute after kickoff. However, the Ragazzi recovered and went on to take control of the game by way of “Sarrismo”. After establishing possession the chances began to come for Napoli. The most notable of the first half being a slow roller hit by Hamsik off of a Callejon cross, Il Capitano connected with the ball but didn’t put nearly enough on it to trouble Handanovic.
Sarri’s men continued to threaten, however, even though they bossed Inter with their ball movement, they lacked the final ball or touch needed to breakthrough. This mostly in part to the amazing defensive play by Inter’s Milan Skriniar. Skriniar was one of the main reasons Inter were able to weather the storm. The Slovakian had Lorenzo and Dries on lock, whenever either looked to score, there was Skriniar with a foot to poke the ball away.
Inter weren’t nonexistent in this match, though. Luciano Spalletti’s side excelled in transitioning back into defense, and when they won the ball the were able to spread the play out to their wings which made them a big threat on the counterattack. After a quiet first half, the Nerazzurri kicked it up a notch in the second. Just two minutes into the half Skriniar had a header hit the post and Joao Cancelo, who won the free kick on which Skriniar hit the post, became a threat after being switched to the left wing.
Napoli were forced to display their defensive prowess at the beginning of the second half until they were able to re-establish possession. After settling down, the visitors picked up where they left off and continued to create. The most clear chance came when Insigne, who was lackluster for much of the second half, was played through on goal, but, instead of shooting, opted to chip it over Handanovic and out for a goal kick.
Ultimately it was individual errors that cost Napoli the three points. Sub-par performances from key players like Insigne and Allan can’t continue if Napoli want to find themselves back at the top of Serie A.
However; there’s no need to lose hope. Juventus still have to play Inter, Roma, AC Milan, and ourselves. Also, they are still involved in the Champions League. So, Napoli’s title challenge may have been given a huge blow, but every story’s hero looks down and out at one point.
By Massimo Nuzzo Follow @sscncentral