Going into Sunday’s match against Juventus, the Partenopei knew that the result would determine the outcome of our season. Napoli had to win a must-win game against a Juventus team that they haven’t beaten away since October of 2009. Impossible, right? Wrong. Our boys in blue went on to take 3 points from Juventus in Turin for the first time in almost a decade, and now that we’ve all recovered, let’s take a look Sunday’s match.
Right from kickoff the tone of the match was set, Napoli came out on the offensive while Juve had no problem sitting back and inviting the pressure. Sarri’s men held the ball well, and if they did lose it they did an excellent job of winning it back. Once any of Juventus’ back four won the ball they were immediately closed down and forced into making a quick pass which led to either Buffon having to boot it forward, or Napoli regaining possession.
The Partenopei almost went down early on, however, when Callejon deflected Pjanic’s free kick onto the post. Soon after Napoli had their biggest chance of the first half. Mario Rui cut inside to play Hamsik through into the penalty box but Il Capitano came up short as he put it past the far post.
Following an exciting first half, the second half was expected to be just as entertaining, and unsurprisingly, it delivered. Napoli continued to create chances and seven minutes after the restart Hamsik had another opportunity to give the Partenopei the lead. Marekiaro was set up by Insigne but his left footed strike went into the outside netting. The next biggest chance of the half came when Jorginho played a beautiful ball over to Callejon, who for most of the match was questionable, where the Spaniard’s volley was well saved by Buffon.
The breakthrough was yet to come, but it had to. Surely it couldn’t end like this, could it? This performance had to end justified, and boy did it ever. With a 90th minute corner kick incoming, Kalidou Koulibaly, the Senegalese Center-back left Medhi Benatia in his dust and leapt to meet Callejon’s cross as if San Gennaro himself cleared a path for him. You went crazy, I went crazy, Naples went crazy. Then, the final whistle. The boys were coming home with three points and all the confidence in the world to push for the scudetto.
Now, if you’re wondering about the lack of Juventus analysis the reason is simple, they didn’t do anything. They were dominated at home and outplayed by a Napoli side that were only there to win. However, it isn’t over yet. We may have won the battle, but we haven’t yet won the war. Sunday’s result was the perfect boost for the squad to finish out the campaign strong, and hopefully with a little more help from San Gennaro, we’ll be celebrating the Scudetto in May.
By Massimo Nuzzo Follow @sscncentral