The first of three home games for Napoli did not start off well. Napoli tied 3-3 with Udinese. In this match Napoli lost the lead twice. They took a two goal lead after the 41st minute of play and went up again at the 71st minute, however both times leads were given away. Napoli’s goals came from a brace by Goran Pandev and Blerim Dzemaili. As far from a stats perspective, Napoli did have more possession (58%) and a better passing rate (78%) according to whoscored.com (http://www.whoscored.com/Matches/758185/MatchReport/Italy-Serie-A-2013-2014-Napoli-Udinese).
- Goran Pandev: For a second match in a row, Pandev has been in fine form. He has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last 2 Serie A games. Pandev’s first goal came off a nice corner from Insigne and header pass from Fernandez. Pandev scored his second goal in what looks like to be his favorite “finishing” move the spin and shoot low corner.
- Gonzalo Higuain: He did not find the back of the net, however his great work rate and skill allowed him to set-up the first one and on the the 3rd goal,Higuain made the keeper make a difficult save that allowed Dzemaili to finish the ball in back of the net.
- Both Higuain and Pandev need to keep this form in the upcoming Champions League match versus Arsenal.
- Udinese Youth: During the match, football fans were privileged to watch four players (Fernandes, Lopez, Allan, Silva) in the starting XI that were born in the 90s (“94, “93. and two in “91). As usual the Fruili management group will properly develop these young players and sell them to “cash-in”. However, for the time being it is great to see young talent prosper in Serie A.
- Honorable Mentions: Bruno Fernandes Goal, Blerim Dzemaili
- Napoli Defending: I feel like a broken record, however this Napoli defense is very bad and disorganized. The most alarming “scene” was on the 3rd goal conceded to allow Udinese (Basta) tie the game from a corner. Every Napoli player in the box was a statue or on the floor and finally Behrami missed his assignment (which is a rare case).
- Rafael 1st Start: To be honest I have wanted to see Rafael get a start. Did he live up to expectations? No. However, it was his first start in Serie A and has much to learn. Rafael start could of been even worse by scoring into his own goal in the opening minutes. This might of been an omen, seeing as the first goal scored against him was actually an own goal by Fernandez just before half-time. The second goal was a great strike by Fernandes, however, Rafael misjudged the ball and should of punched at it regardless. On the 3rd goal, although his team in front of him was more to blame, Rafael looked lost on his line.
- Lorenzo Insigne 74th Minute Play: Although he may of stumbled, Insigne had to do a lot better with the amount of space ant time he had. Insigne could of either scored his first goal in Serie A or set-up Higuain for his team leading 8th of the season. Both scenarios would of put the game out of reach.
- Rafael Benitez Post-game: I understand this is still a a new project at Napoli and fans should not expect instant results, however I do not like the fact that Benitez constantly uses “Revenue turnover” as an excuse. Yes, Napoli success is relevantly new compared to others, however this is not the EPL, where big money is spent and the team that spends the most wins the league.
- Napoli Own Goal: Although Fernandez wanted to make a defensive play, his attempt ended deflecting the ball into his own goal. This goal gave Udinese a lifeline going into the second half. More worrisome was again, from a corner kick, Napoli players losing out in a air duel to clear the ball out of the box.
In the end, Napoli now have lost 7 points at home. Napoli need to turn the page quickly, seeing they have an important clash versus Arsenal on December 11. It is a must win. To guarantee a place in the next stage of Champions League, Napoli need to win at least 3-0. For me, I am not worried about scoring goals for Napoli, it is stopping Arsenal scoring them. After this match, another important game is waiting for Napoli, which is versus Inter.