Napoli came into this important Serie A fixture vs Inter on the heels of being eliminated from Champions League in heart-breaking fashion. This match was not for the traditional catenaccio fan seeing as both Napoli and Inter’s defense was mediocre at best. Napoli won the game 4-2. The goals came from Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens, Blerim Dzemaili and Jose Callejon. The match was entertaining with great attacking and counter-attackig play by both teams. According to whoscored.com (http://www.whoscored.com/Matches/758091/MatchReport/Italy-Serie-A-2013-2014-Napoli-Inter), Inter had most of possession (58%) but Napoli had 9 shots on target (13 total shots).
- Gonzalo Higuain: It seems to me that Higuain has found his form again. He opening the scoring with a perfectly timed volley albeit from an Nagatamo clearance error. Nonetheless, Higuain showed off his clinical finishing with this opportunity. Higuain also showed his passing skills with a great one-touch ball to send Dzemaili on the attack, which lead to Mertens goal. I know Higuain has not scored at the same rate of ex-Napoli striker Cavani did, however, in my opinion, Higuain has showed great pace, teamwork, passing skills and seems better with both feet. Napoli need Higuain to keep form if Napoli have any chance to make a run for the scudetto.
- Blerim Dzemaili: According to whoscored.com Dzemaili was man of the match. I would have to agree with that, seeing as Dzemaili finished the game with 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 tackles and an 81% passing succession rate. Dzemaili has been playing well of late and looks to have regained the same form from 2013-13 Serie A campaign. This is good news for Napoli and its fans, seeing as Inler has been M.I.A.
- Fredy Guarin: He was a constant threat all game. Although he did not receive two assists on both goals scored by Inter, Guarin was the player who created the opportunities. Unfortunately for Inter fans and Serie A, it seems Guarin talent will no longer be on display for fans to watch as a transfer to Chelsea seems to be in place for his services.
- Lorenzo Insigne Assist: He might be the leader of Serie A 0f a disappointing category, most shots at goal with zero goals (although this could of changed…), however Insigne played a very strong game and provided a great assist on Callejon team-leading 8th goal (tied with Higuain).
- Return of Mazzari: Say what you will about Mazzari, he brought Napoli to another level and put them on the right path. Yes he had his faults but he did great things for the squad. There were some jeers but I believe the reception of the tifosi at Stadio San Paolo was more positive than negative
- Honorable Mentions: Dries Mertens, Rolando slide tackle on Higuain early in second-half.
- Red Card given: The second yellow card given to Ricky Alvarez was for a handball. Not only was the card harsh, it killed all the momentum of the match and deflated Inter. Although the handball was intentional it was neither blatant nor prevent a scoring opportunity.
- 5 goals in 1st-half: It is not necessarily bad from a entertainment and/or neutral fan standpoint, however as far from a defensive display it is bad. This shows that Napoli is still behind from a defensive standpoint the likes of Juventus and this year Roma. Napoli need to stop making defensive mistakes, missing marking assignments and leaving so much space to the opposition, if they want to remain in the scudetto chase or in Champions League spots.
- Goran Pandev: I do not know where to begin to explain the amount of disgust I felt watching Pandev deny Insigne from taking the penalty shot. Happy he missed (would not be if was needed to win the game)Yes Pandev was the one fouled, yes it was against his former team but common on! I know Pandev will never read this, however I would love to tell him the following:
- “Pandev, what were you thinking? Not only do you already have goals in this Serie A campaign, you deny Insigne, a teammate, a chance to get the monkey off his back/break the ice by scoring his first Serie A goal of the year, which would of been at home in front of his home town! Not impressed with the lack of leadership and camaraderie“
With this win Napoli solidify their 3rd place positionn and gain on 2nd place due to Roma getting a draw vs. AC Milan. The next match Napoli have before Christmas break is away vs. Cagliari.
On a side note, I would like to mention that the Napoli squad made their fans proud by collecting twelve points in the group stage, howver was still not enough to qualify. Also, the sight of Higuain in tears at the end of the match showed me that he has passion for the game, the sweater he wears and the city. Forza Napoli! http://youtu.be/jKIYuHIeTX4?t=8s