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Udinese 1, Napoli 0 Match Review: Disaster in Udine

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A heavily rotated Napoli side fell flat on their faces and lost what should have been an easily winnable game against a poor Udinese side.

Dino Panato

Hope you came in to this match with a pot of coffee handy, because oh goodness was it necessary. Or at least it was until the rage built up enough to sustain you.

It was dull. It was boring. It was frustrating. It was tepid. It was timid. It was infuriating.

Napoli rolled out with a heavily rotated side thanks to the machinations of Rafa Benitez, and it took a looooong time for them to look anything resembling settled and "in" to the match. Of course, when Jorginho is out injured and all of Marek Hamsik, Dries Mertens, and Gokhan Inler are being rested, that will happen.

The midfield duo of Walter Gargano and David Lopez (making his full starting debut) was actually mildly effective, mostly thanks to some sterling efforts by Lopez. When Gargano had wandered out of position or gone to ground on a challenge he had no hope on, Lopez was there to clean up the mess. Gargano did actually have Napoli's best chance of the match, though, cracking the post on a shot from the edge of the box.

Napoli really struggled with trying to maintain possession and create danger, though. Michu made his first start today in Hamsik's playmaking role, but really struggled to make quick decisions with the ball and lacked any incision in the final third. With how tentative he was playing, it really looked as though he's still struggling with his confidence after how lost things became last season.

The second half was more of the same, especially as Udinese dropped in a bit more of a defensive look to try to contain what few forays forward Napoli were able to string together. The hosts ventured forward on the counter now and then, but for the most part let things stand as they were. One particular counter that was looking threatening was snuffed out brilliantly by Kalidou Koulibaly, who swept the ball away from an onrushing Antonio Di Natale and left Udinese's captain in a frustrated heap.

Di Natale was celebrating before too much longer, though. After Walter Gargano gave away a needless foul about 30 yards from goal on a counter that was going nowhere, Udinese had a chance off a free kick. The initial try was cleared away, badly, and Danilo was able to run through unmarked to fire home the loose ball. It was another goal surrendered against the run of play after a disastrous miscue for Napoli, otherwise known as business as usual this season.

The calls for Rafa Benitez to be fired are louder than they've ever been, and are only going to get louder as more and more fans react to this horrific result. Three points in three matches is unacceptable for a side that's supposed to be in title contention, especially with how poor the performances have been and that Napoli was a last second miracle goal from this being one point in three matches. First the horror show in the Champions League playoff, now this insipid start in the league. When is Aurelio De Laurentiis going to say that enough is enough?

Udinese: Karnezis; Widmer, Danilo, Hertaux; Piris, Badu, Allan, Guilherme; Kone, Di Natale (Muriel 82'), Fernandes (Thereau 70')

Goal: Danilo 70'

Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Britos; Gargano, Lopez; Zuniga (Callejon 64'), Michu (Mertens 72'), Insigne (De Guzman 75'); Higuain