Napoli came out arrogant and cocky and got punched in the mouth for it, slumping to a 2-2 draw against Parma and thoroughly embarrassing themselves in the process.
In typically Napoli fashion, things started off poorly against an opponent that Napoli had no excuse to have such a start against. It took just nine minutes of tepid football from the partenopei for everything to go pear-shaped on a corner, with Mariano Andujar completely misplaying the ball in the air, winding up left flapping at nothing while Naples-born Parma forward Raffaele Palladino slotted home with startling ease.
You would think that would entice Napoli to push forward aggressively to try and find an equalizer, but as has happened far, far too often against small teams the past two seasons, there looked to be little in the way of a concise tactical plan to beat Parma. Earlier in the season when they were listless and unfocused side rapidly falling in to obscurity, that might have worked. Recently, though, Parma have been eager and full of fight, with nothing left to lose and the players wanting to set themselves up for their next clubs.
Suffice it to say, the arrogant "we can beat them without trying" attitude Napoli took in to this match didn't do the job.
Yes, Napoli got a first-half equalizer when Manolo Gabbiadini squibbed in a goal past Antonio Mirante, but that scoreline lasted all of five minutes before Parma tried a training-ground free kick routine that somehow left Andujar dumbfounded, allowing Cristobal Jorquera to score easily from 30 yards.
Despite trailing again, Napoli rarely looked likely to score for the rest of the first half or indeed much of the second. Yes, the partenopei managed a number of shots on goal, but most were tame shots from range that Mirante saves easily or scuffed shots from bad angles that Mirante covered with ease. They only had about five genuine scoring chances in the match, and only managed to convert one more of them, Dries Mertens' cutting effort late in the match.
Even with a couple of aggressively attacking substitutes, though, Napoli failed to make much of an impression on Parma's side, though, and Napoli were forced to suffer their way to a draw. The final whistle saw a furious reaction from Napoli players and staff, bringing further shame and misery to a day that was already pretty awful for club and fans alike. Barring a miracle, Napoli are effectively out of the Champions League race in the league -- even with Lazio and Roma losing this weekend, gaining only one point on them means they're almost out of time to catch up.
Parma: Mirante; Cassani (Costa 74'), Mendes, Feddal, Gobbi; Varela, Lila, Mauri (Ghezzal 79'), Nocerino, Jorquera (Mariga 71'); Palladino
Goals: Palladino (9'), Jorquera (33')
Napoli: Andujar; Strinic, Koulibaly, Albiol, Henrique; Gargano (Higuain 57'), Inler (Lopez 75'); Mertens, Hamsik, Gabbiadini; Zapata (Callejon 52')
Goals: Gabbiadini (28'), Mertens (72')