Napoli fell well short of expectations at the San Siro as they fell 2-0 to AC Milan thanks to a pair of awful defensive miscues.
Things got off to a pretty disastrous start for Napoli, with AC Milan striking just six minutes in. Jeremy Menez made David Lopez and Raul Albiol look like statues, collecting a through ball from Giacomo Boneventura and skipping through the partenopei defense en route to making Rafael look like a fool with his finish. It was a flying start for Milan, setting Napoli immediately on the back foot and giving them a hole to climb out of.
We've seen Napoli perform well after such starts this season, but that wasn't the case today. They got forward well at times, but Jonathan De Guzman struggled as the main playmaker, too often choosing the wrong final pass or missing free runs from Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens. For his part, Gonzalo Higuain was extremely poor for most of the match, proving too easy to mark out or hold at bay. When Napoli lost the ball, which was often, Milan were often able to carve the defense open with a counter attack, but luckily the rossoneri had their own struggles in the final third.
That frustrating mediocrity took things to halftime, and unfortunately things didn't get any better in the second half. Napoli started off with more mediocre attacks and more mediocre defending, and it wasn't long before they paid for that sluggishness. Jorginho let Giacomo Bonaventura simply run away from him, and neither Kalidou Koulibaly or Raul Albiol bothered to close the Italian down as Pablo Armero sent in a virtually unchallenged cross that Bonaventura was able to easily nod in.
That put Napoli down 2-0, and for all the efforts they made to get forward, they rarely looked actually likely to score. What few chances they had on-frame, they hit straight at Diego Lopez in goal. Duvan Zapata had Napoli's best chances, but he wasn't on the pitch long enough to create enough of them. With time ticking away, Rafa's answer to Napoli's attacking woes was to... take off Jonathan De Guzman and put on Walter Gargano. De Guzman wasn't great, but he supports the attack far better than Gargano could ever dream to. Instead of being brave and maybe changing shape to push the fullbacks forward or do something more creative to chase the two goals Napoli needed, he pulled off an attacker and brought on a defensive mid.
Bravo. Real gutsy move, that.
Regardless, Napoli simply were not good enough in this match. They should have been at least competitive with Milan, but instead they barely stood a chance. This kind of result is unacceptable, and Napoli will need to be much, much better next time out to even start trying to make up for it.
AC Milan: Diego Lopez; Bonera, Mexes, Rami (Cristian Zapata 65'), Armero; Poli (Muntari 66'), De Jong, Montolivo (Essien 86'); Honda, Menez, Bonaventura
Goals: Menez 6', Bonaventura 52'
Napoli: Rafael; Mesto, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; David Lopez, Jorginho (Hamsik 61'); Callejon, De Guzman (Gargano 77'), Mertens (Zapata 71'); Higuain
*The player ratings post will be further behind the recap than normal today due to time constraints