clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Three things we learned from Napoli's 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg

Napoli are in the Europa League semifinals after finishing off Wolfsburg at the San Paolo. This is what they taught us.

Getty Images/Getty Images

While Napoli could only manage a 2-2 draw against Wolfsburg in the second leg of their Europa League quarterfinal tie, it was still more than enough to advance to the semifinal round thanks to the 6-3 aggregate scoreline they built up.

Goals from Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens broke the deadlock in the second half and Wolfsburg's efforts at mounting a comeback could only equalize the match, coming three goals shy of bringing the tie level. In the end, they just ran out of time, and Napoli are a step away from the Europa League Final in Warsaw.

Three things

1. Jose Callejon is back - As if we needed further confirmation, Callejon's goal and his ability to frequently cause problems for Wolfsburg's back line showed that his strong form is at no risk of abating right now. He's roared back to his best play at the perfect time, and the end of Napoli's season will be all the better for it. It's wonderful to see Ziggy playing so well again.

2. The defense is good when it's on, and useless when it's not - For the first half of the match, Napoli's defense weathered a hell of a storm from Wolfsburg. It wasn't always pretty, but the back four plus David Lopez did a good job in keeping Wolfsburg's determined efforts to score at bay, forcing several good scoring chances in to sub-par shots, and Mariano Andujar was up to the task when they did manage to get something on-frame. When Napoli got their second goal, though, the defense switched completely off for five terrifying minutes, giving Wolfsburg a pair of way-too-easy goals and ramping up the stress levels. Fortunately, things were seen out with the aggregate score intact, but for those five minutes when Wolfsburg were given free reign, things didn't feel nearly so certain.

3. Gokhan Inler is struggling again - For awhile, the Swiss international was at a high point, playing well and helping Napoli when they needed it. Of late, though, he's slipped back in the mediocre form he's suffered through for most of the season. Just as in last week's match, Luiz Gustavo beat him like a drum up and down the pitch, only the matchup fell even more starkly in Wolfsburg's favor than it did in Germany. That gave Wolfsburg a clear "in" towards Napoli's defense in their attacking play, and was the direct cause of most of the pressure they generated during the match. It's a shame to see Inler struggle like this because he's a very good player, but that doesn't change the fact that he just hasn't been very good.