Napoli need a bit of a tuneup before their high-profile friendlies in the coming weeks, and they got exactly that this morning against Lega Pro side FeralpiSalo at their Dimaro training camp.
With large parts of the squad still on vacation following World Cup appearances or still working their way back to full fitness, the squad that Rafa Benitez put out was a little rag-tag in nature, with a mix of first-teamers and fringe players unlikely to be in the squad this season. Rafael Cabral made his first appearance in goal since injuring his knee in February, and Kalidou "Wardrobe" Koulibaly was handed his first start as a Napoli player, albeit an unofficial one as preseason friendlies don't count for much.
A handful of other regular starters were on the pitch at the first whistle as well, including Jorginho, Lorenzo Insigne, and Jose Callejon. Duvan Zapata also started up top, giving the big Colombian a chance to convince Rafa to give him a role in the first team side and not loan him out for playing time this upcoming season. Marek Hamsik, of course, started the match as well, as befits his status as captain of the side.
It was Hamsik that scored Napoli's opener, with a cool finish in the 38th minute. That would be his last significant action of the match, as he was one of six players taken off at the half for substitutes, with the likes of Christian Maggio, Goran Pandev, and Lorenzo's little brother Roberto Insigne getting some playing time. Another sub, winger Nicolao Dumitru, would be the next man to score, with the 22 year old Italian scoring in the 50th minute.
That would be it for the scoring, though Michu was handed his debut as well, coming on for Duvan Zapata at the hour mark. The venerable Roberto Colombo got some playing time as well, relieving Rafael in goal with twenty minutes to go. By all accounts, Napoli played well and showed some pleasing football despite the mishmash grouping of players, but that should be expected of a team facing a third-division side just starting their own preseason.
Still, it's always nice to get things started with a win, and to see fringe players make a good accounting of themselves. Hopefully this little bit of match fitness will help as the squad build themselves up for the start of the Serie A campaign and their Champions League playoff matches.
Napoli: Rafael (Colombo 70); Mesto, Koulibaly, Luperto (Dimitru 45), Britos (Maggio 45); Jorginho (Pandev 45), Romano (R.Insigne 45); L.Insigne (Anastasio 45), Hamsik, Callejon (Maiello 45), Duvan (Michu 60)