clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What we learned from Napoli's 4-1 win over Wolfsburg in the Europa League

Napoli's shocking road win taught some valuable lessons.

Martin Rose/Getty Images

Almost no one saw this coming, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen. Two first half goals lifted Napoli to an incredible upset in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal tie and two more in the second half may have sealed it, giving Napoli a huge early advantage both in scoreline and with the power of four away goals.

Yes, sure, they gave up a goal to Nicklas Bendtner of all people, but the sheer dominance of Napoli's display was incredible and most welcome. If this side is coming back in to form ... well, they couldn't have picked a better time.

3 things

1. Marek Hamsik is Napoli's best and most important player by a long ways - Fans have been all over Marek Hamsik over the last 18 months for a perceived lack of quality, something that's only been compounded by bizarre and frustrating squad decisions from Rafa Benitez. But when he plays, Napoli are much better for it, and when he's in form, they're hard to stop. Wolfsburg tried several different marking schemes to slow him down, to each of which the spiky-haired Slovakian just laughed and skipped right on past. Hamsik's brace only scratched the surface of his contributions today, and he was easily the best player on the pitch.

2. The training retreat worked - The much-discussed training retreat that Napoli went in to after losing to Lazio in the Coppa Italia semifinal has been met with divisive opinions. Rafa Benitez reportedly tried to quit after Aurelio De Laurentiis forced the club in to it -- but then Napoli thumped Fiorentina 3-0 at the weekend for their first win in over a month. Now with this resounding and surprising road win in Germany, the retreat is paying dividends. At no point this season has the side looked so together and coordinated, and now we're really seeing what these players are capable of together.

3. David Lopez is cool - Even when Luiz Gustavo was beating Gokhan Inler like a drum in the first half, the worst of Wolfsburg's attacking efforts were kept at bay. Most of that was due to Lopez, who's positioning and defensive work were top-notch, consistently cutting out danger or keeping it from developing in the first place. Many people criticized his purchase when it was first made, but Lopez fits the side brilliantly and has wound up being an inspired signing. Napoli's performance today is as much on what Lopez did in defense as it was about their high-octane attack.