When a side plays as poorly as Napoli did for the first hour of today's match against Empoli, it's hard to get too excited by the squad's performances. Still, there were some moments that stood out in a good way today, though the general result can only be considered disappointing.
Rafael Cabral - 5 - Should have done much better than he did on the opening goal, and arguably could have done better on the second as well, though it's harder to blame him for that with how badly Ghoulam screwed up his clearance. Also had a terrifying moment when he tried to clear a ball and mis-kicked his first try at it, nearly gifting it to Tavano. Fortunately the ball didn't go far and he was able to get it away, but still.... yikes.
Christian Maggio - 5 - Not a huge factor in attack or defense. Crossing was abysmal. Picked up a yellow card, so will sit out the AC Milan match next weekend.
Henrique Buss - 3 - Got caught way too far upfield when Empoli scored because he didn't come back anywhere near fast enough after the corner fizzled out. Goal came through where he should have been, but he wasn't there to do anything about it. Also looked like he was supposed to be marking Rugani on the corner that the defender scored on. Even when he wasn't making goal-surrendering mistakes, Henrique was... underwhelming.
Raul Albiol - 4 - Albiol struggled mightily with his positioning again today. Normally Kalidou Koulibaly is able to cover for Albiol when he has days like this, but with Henrique next to him having an even more nightmarish time of things, it made Albiol's issues look even worse. Was peripherally involved in both Empoli goals as well, making matters more... interesting.
Faouzi Ghoulam - 5 - Ghoulam is pulling high ratings from stats-based services because he won a few tackles and had the most touches of any player in the match, but those stats don't account for his shanked "clearance" that set up Rugani's goal or all the times Vecino, Maccarone, and Hysaj waltzed by him. Not one of Ghoulam's better days.
David Lopez - 6 - Lopez was actually more useful in attack than normal (not that he's useless in attack, he just got more involved than he usually does), but wasn't was dominating in defense as normal. It's hard to blame him, though, since Lopez had to shield two struggling center backs and protect a midfield partner having an off day.
Jorginho - 5 - Jorginho had some bizarre struggles today. He turned the ball over far more often than normal, and struggled mightily in his defensive efforts. He didn't create much of anything either, which was disappointing.
Jose Callejon - 5 - Callejon was on the ball a lot, which is an improvement from some of his recent matches, but was woefully ineffective with it for the most part. This run of mediocre form for Callejon is stretching on for a disconcertingly long time.
Marek Hamsik - 5 - Speaking of disconcerting form, what's happened to Hamsik? From mid-September through early November, Hamsik was on a good and ever-improving run of form. Since the international break, though, he's been a shadow of himself again. Please be better, Marekiaro.
Dries Mertens - 7 - Snagged the assist on the first goal and was Napoli's best attacker in the first hour of the match. Well, only good attacker, really. Everything Napoli actually managed to pull together attack-wise in the first hour was either created directly by him, or involved him in some way.
Duvan Zapata - 6 - Scored the opening goal, but aside from winning a bunch of headers Zapata really wasn't good before that. The quality of service to him sucked, to be fair, but he didn't do much to impose himself on the match as we know he's capable of. Was much better and more active after he scored, until he had to get subbed after cramping up.
Gonzalo Higuain - 7 - While Higuain wasn't directly involved in either Napoli goal, his energy and the attention he drew played a factor in both. Even with only a handful of touches and just one shot, Higuain's substitute appearance turned the match on its head.
Jonathan De Guzman - 7 - Enter match. Defend set piece. Run down on counter. Score goal. Not a bad opening two minutes for De Guzman. Wasn't half bad after that, either. Nice and tidy little appearance.
Walter Gargano - n/a - Didn't have a lot of time on the pitch to get involved. Didn't screw anything up, though, so there's that!
Who was your man of the match for Napoli against Empoli? Vote in the poll below and talk about it in the comments!