That was brutal, disappointing, awful, agonizing, horrifying... ugh. Just ugh.
Parma 1 Parolo 55'
For what seems like the umpteenth time this season, Napoli couldn't make anything work in front of goal, got out-physical-ed by their opposition, and suffered a breakdown at the back that was punished by their opposition. It was a disaster show that completely undid any momentum Napoli may have gained from the win over Juventus last week.
Once again, Gonzalo Higuain was stranded up top without decent service. Once again, Marek Hamsik was languid and uninvolved. Once again, Gokhan Inler and Raul Albiol made a massive error that directly led to a goal. Once again, Rafa Benitez was slow to react to the flow of the match in his adjustments and substitutions.
It's far too familiar of a story at this point, and one that's become incredibly frustrating as a Napoli fan. This season could have been something great, but too many matches exactly like this have ruined those dreams. Just a few weeks ago, Napoli pulled to within six points of Roma with a shout of passing them for second place. Now, they're twelve points back and with just six matches to go, there's basically zero chance they can surpass Roma.
This second half of the season has just been an ever-growing series of frustrations for Napoli fans. Some combination of the "once again"s listed above has happened in almost every match since the turn of the year, and it's reaching the point of expecting the worst of it in every. single. match.
Were there issues with the ref? Yeah, sure. He let Parma get away with way too much, and denied Duvan Zapata a stonewall penalty late in the match (and in fact booked him for diving, which was beyond ridiculous). But you know what? Napoli did not deserve to win or even draw that match. They played like a big ol' honking pile of garbage and got what they earned.
On the plus side, Jorginho was excellent again, and Duvan Zapata was a breath of fresh air when he came on. After his start a few weeks ago and Higuain's lackluster play of late, it might be worth giving Zapata a couple starts in these last few matches.
Napoli have six matches left to go, including a few that won't be easy. Let's just hope they pull their heads out and make this stretch run worth remembering.