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Livorno 1, Napoli 1: Insipid and Uninspired

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Napoli's worst performance in a long time saw yet another display of dropped points against an opponent that should have been thrashed.

Giuseppe Bellini

No, your eyes did not deceive you. Napoli really did wear their home blues for the first time in a month. That was probably the best thing to happen today by a country mile.

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Livorno 1 Reina O.G. 39'
Napoli 1 Mertens (pen) 32'

There's really not a lot that needs to be said about this match. Napoli played poorly, took the lead anyways, played worse, gave up an equalizer thanks to a hideous defensive breakdown, then played even worse for most of the rest of the match. It's a story it feels like we've seen a hundred times now this season.

No one really played well on a whole today. Dries Mertens, who earned his chance at the penalty after a torrid opening twenty minutes, was almost completely anonymous in the second half before a late run that set up the most gloriously wasted chance we've seen in awhile. Even Jorginho, who's normally excellent, was thoroughly average outside of a few excellent moments (most notably saving a go-ahead goal for Livorno in the second half). Federico Fernadndez didn't actively screw anything up, which gives him a leg up on the rest of the defense.

Otherwise? Yikes. Christian Maggio had a nightmare of a time today. He, Pepe Reina, and Miguel Britos combined for the display of sheer incompetence that lead to the own goal. Faouzhi Ghoulam struggled with Ibrahima Mbaye at times and was completely ineffective with his set piece delivery, again. Goran Pandev may as well have been a training dummy for all of how useful he was.

In the end, it's just a sad song played on repeat that we're all beyond sick of. Rafa Benitez made poor lineup decisions and failed to get his side up for a match against a smaller club, yet again. The players  were utterly ineffective in the final third, yet again. The fanbase watched on with head in hands in utter disbelief, yet again.

We know this Napoli team can play great in the big matches. In fact, even after today a win and a fantastic performance are almost expected against Roma next weekend. But these repeated, almost unforgivable issues against small teams have to stop now, because if they don't, not only will second place be out of reach, but Fiorentina might just pip Napoli to third place by the end of the season. If that happens, it will be a disaster.

Don't let it happen.