For Napoli, the 19th matchday fixture was away at a very difficult stadium vs Hellas Verona. The match start for Napoli was very poor, however they weathered the storm, then became more involved and played better. The match finished 3-0 for Napoli. The goals came from Mertens, Insigne (finally!), and Dzemaili. From a statistical point of view, Napoli ended up dominating most areas; from a possession standpoint (53%), shots on target (8), aerial success (60%) – http://www.whoscored.com/Matches/758114/MatchReport/Italy-Serie-A-2013-2014-Verona-Napoli.
- Christian Maggio: This was arguably the best game for Maggio in a very long time. He finally looked like a real full-back. Defensively he had the most tackles, was positioned well and still provided offense with his timely runs. One of his runs down the flank, he played in a beautiful low cut cross in the middle of the box to on oncoming Insigne who scored a crucial 2nd goal to give Napoli some breathing room. Hopefully this is the first of many good games for Maggio, who perhaps is finally finding his form after his injury from earlier in the season.
- Dries Mertens: He is simply on great form (he has taken over the scoring duties from Callejon). His goal came in the 27th minute, when he did a lovely cut to the inside move and bent his shot around the keeper to find the back of the net. One can see how Mertens is playing with high confidence and benefiting from the minutes on the pitch.
- Lorenzo Insigne 1st goal (Serie A): Insigne finally broke his “goose egg” by scoring his first Serie A goal for Napoli. He was subbed on for Pandev at the 67th minute. In 9 minutes, Insigne scored his first goal and created the goal scoring opportunity for Dzemaili (who put in the rebound after a save on Insigne shot from Hellas Verona keeper). I personally was glad to see Insigne get the monkey off his back. Now with Hamsik returning from injury getting playing time will be more difficult, however the trio of Insigne-Callejon-Mertens showed they are capable of doing the job.
- Honorable Mentions: Blerim Dzemaili, Frederico Fernandez, Rafael, Actual gameplay
- Goran Pandev: He was just bad this game. He was given two golden opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net after some great build-up play but Pandev just wasted them. I do not see what Benitez gets starting Pandev and making him play over 60 minutes during a game. I know he is not dynamic/game change enough to come on as a sub but at this point he should be starting just Coppa Italia matches as the vice to Zapata.
- Scoring opportunity for Luca Toni: The amount of time and space that the two CBs of Napoli (although Fernandez played a relatively strong game being a thorn in Toni’s side) gave to Iturbe to find Toni with a through ball and Toni to strike the ball was ridiculous. If that through ball found a striker who can actually strike a ball from outside the box (no offence Toni), it could been a different result.
- First 20 mins: As mentioned at the beginning, Napoli opening minutes of the match were horrendous. Everything they were doing was wrong; misplaced passes, bad marking, no offense. I thought we, Napoli fans, were going to be in for a one-sided victory by Hellas.
In the end, Napoli got the results needed to keep pace with 1st/2nd place and put some distance between them and 4th place Fiorentina. The next match is midweek at home in a Coppa Italia fixture vs Atalanta, which is then followed by a match vs Bologna.