Special performances. Comebacks, penalties, and drama. A trophy lifted. It was quite a day for Napoli as they beat Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiana, and there are some tasty individual displays to break down and grade.
Rafael Cabral - 9 - What. A. Performance. Yes, Juve scored twice, but massive mistakes in defense meant he couldn't do anything about either one. On the shots that he could do something about, though, Rafael was absolutely tremendous. It's not easy to out-play Gianluigi Buffon in a title-deciding match, but the Brazilian did so by a wide margin, pulling out a number of huge saves, including the decider in the penalty shootout. The only reason this isn't a 10 is because it feels like he has better performances in him, which is almost frightening to consider.
Christian Maggio - 6 - It's hard to get a feel for Maggio's game. Evra ran rampant over him at times, but Maggio had him completely contained at others. Was partly at fault for the second goal, as he and Inler combined to give Pogba zero trouble in the final third as he set up the shot. Was effective at times in attack, but utterly absent at others. Just a weird performance to try to get a handle on.
Raul Albiol - 3 - This was not a good day for Albiol. Directly at fault for the first goal by practically rugby-tackling Koulibaly out of the path of Tevez. It's hard to know what he was even thinking by getting involved there; Marchisio was ghosting up the pitch in to his area, and Koulibaly had the loose ball and Tevez well covered. Yet he still careened in and blew everything up. Failed to properly mark Tevez over and over and over throughout the match, which eventually helped lead to the second goal and forced Rafael in to action far too many times. He scored his penalty, though, so that's good.
Kalidou Koulibaly - 9 - After a couple rough matches, Koulibaly was on-point again today. Killed off some very dangerous Juventus attacks, had some big clearances, including one off the goal line, bossed Juve players on set pieces, and oh yeah, scored the winning penalty kick. No big deal. Except that he was awesome. But other than that. No big.
Faouzi Ghoulam - 9 - As one Twitter friend put it, "Ghoulam, left-back extraordinaire, fears no ones and has a nice tan." If you want an example of how to play left back at the highest levels, just show people his game footage from this match. Ghoulam put on a clinic, locking down the left defensively and tormenting Lichtsteiner when he got forward in attack. Just an incredible display.
Walter Gargano - 8 - Gargano is getting overlooked by a lot of people after this match, and it's understandable why. He's (rightfully) earned a lot of criticism this season, and with so many other special performances by Napoli players today, it's easy to miss what Gargano did. What he did, though, was impressive: left to deal with Arturo Vidal all on his own, he took the Chilean star almost completely out of the match. Vidal only had two real involvements in the match from open play, and both came when he ran away from Gargano in to other areas of the pitch. Other than that, he was completely contained thanks to Gargano's work. Oh, and he scored his penalty in the shootout. Hat's off, and job very well done, Walter.
David Lopez - 8 - Had some shaky moments, such as the bizarre header back that lead to Napoli's first goal. Recovered very well from that, though, and responded to that failure by locking Paul Pogba out of the match. It's no coincidence that Pogba's only positive involvements came after Lopez was subbed off. He was immense in keeping the talented Frenchman at bay, and did a fair bit to cover for Albiol's weaknesses too.
Jose Callejon - 5 - Callejon still can't get back in form. Got screwed out of a chance by a terrible offsides call, but had two glorious chances to score and put neither on target. Lost the ball too easily several times, and looked exhausted as the match wore on. It was little wonder that he missed his penalty. Poor guy.
Marek Hamsik - 7 - When the squad was struggling and pushing to find a way in to the match early in the first half, Marek took them on his back and drove them on. Created a number of chances for himself and others, and was tireless in his defensive work trying to win it back for Napoli and start counters. His performance is being overlooked, especially since he was the first player subbed off, but Napoli might not have won this match without his heroics.
Jonathan De Guzman - 6 - Was quiet and not very well involved in the first half, but was significantly better in the second. His work rate and instincts helped create the first Napoli goal, and his constant running helped to keep Juventus off-balance defensively as Napoli tried to find a second. Really wore down in extra time, though, so it was little surprise to see Jorginho come on for him.
Gonzalo Higuain - 9 -Let's get this out of the way first: Higuain wasn't very good in the first half. The rest of the match though? He was immense. Scored two big equalizers, had Buffon beaten on two other chances, and scored in the penalty shootout. Give the man a brown coat, because he is a big damn hero. Ain't he just.
Dries Mertens - 5 - Simone Padoin kept him in check, which wasn't great. And missed his penalty, which also wasn't great. Mertens wasn't great. Moving on.
Gokhan Inler - 4 - Added nothing to the attack, and did nothing to contain Pogba, who went from contained with Lopez on the pitch to a menace after Inler came on. Nailed his penalty, though, so yay for that.
Jorginho - 5 - Again looked very uncomfortable in an advanced midfield role, and missed his penalty.
Who was your Napoli Man of the Match against Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiana? Vote in the poll below, and discuss the performances in the comments!