Napoli ran away 3-1 winners in their first UCL home matchup for the 17/18 campaign.
Maurizio Sarri’s side won a commanding and convincing match at home to Dutch champions, Feyenoord. It all started with an excellent strike from Napoli hit-man Lorenzo Insigne. The homegrown Neapolitan etched his name on the scoresheet and left Feyenoord to play catch up for the rest of the game.
A rather dominant Napoli performance ensued, with Callejon and Mertens coming close to adding to the scoreline a few times. Then, came the moment where a poorly placed pass from Feyenoord’s defense allowed Mertens a free shot on goal, and the man-on-fire did not disappoint. A Napoli up 2-0, looked like cruising to the finish to grab all three, crucial points.
All of a sudden, a pretty ridiculous penalty given by Scottish referee, Willie Collum gifted Feyenoord a chance to half the deficit and thus an opportunity at salvaging a point. However, karma did its justice when Napoli ‘keeper Pepe Reina, came up clutch with a crucial save. Thus, Napoli went on to score a third through Jose Maria Callejon. However, it wouldn’t be a Napoli performance without at least one mental lapse. Luckily enough for the Partenopei, this lapse in concentration came too little to late to bear any fruit for the Dutch squad.
As a lofty ball came into the box, it was up to either Kalidou Koulibaly or Nikola Maksimovic to clear it away and maintain a clean sheet. When neither made any attempt at clearing the box of any danger and Feyenoord went onto score a goal, Sarri and Co. went from a very happy bunch to a furious conundrum. What ensued was something I don’t think any Napoli fan has ever seen before. Many a time, Napoli let in the odd late goal which does not really affect the overall outcome of a game and things are pretty quiet, however this was completely different.
Pictures of Sarri bashing his chair and players quite literally punching the ground in utter fury can be seen. It was obvious that keeping a clean sheet was very important to this team, and that’s a great thing to see. A change in attitude might just be what this Napoli team needs to find a piece of crucial silverware this year. Whether it be a Coppa Italia, or maybe it is the main goal, the Scudetto. Napoli team’s of the past have looked to be talented enough to compete with Juventus for Italy’s ultimate prize. However, this year’s Napoli seems to have something a little different, something special. Something so little, like getting so mad that you let in a late goal you forget you actually had won the game. Which just so happened to be exactly what Maurizio Sarri said in his post-match conference.
Who knows what Napoli can do in the months to come in terms of a winning perspective. What all calcio fans must know by now however, is that this Napoli has endured a complete mentality shift, and it was shown and proven in this Feyenoord UCL match. Now, the next real test is facing the high-flying Manchester City without star defender Kalidou Koulibaly. That will be the next big test this potentially Scudetto-winning side will have to face.