Napoli lost 3-2 to Nice on Sunday. That much cannot be argued or changed. Fortunately, the match was only a friendly, so it was more about the performance on the pitch than the result, which will only rest in memory.
Fortunately, by and large the performance was promising. Aside from one poor individual performance -- lookin' at you, Henrique -- and a handful of individual gaffes, it looked like the side was adapting well to the new tactics and you could see the potential there, especially going forward in attack. Once some of the players working on regaining fitness -- such as Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain -- return to the lineup, we could be in for some delightful football.
Based on his post-match comments, Maurizio Sarri largely agrees:
Napoli showed good character and temperament.
I've seen positive things beyond the score. There is a lot of work left to do because we have only been together for twenty days. We played against a team much further along in their preparation, who are a week from the start of the French season.
Even a man down, the desire to achieve the result was good. I liked what I saw from the team as far as their character and commitment.
-Source: Napoli official site
It's hard to argue with Sarri's words -- after going down early, Napoli pushed hard to take the lead again by the 20 minute mark. They eventually lost that lead and fell behind again, but they never once gave up.
That passion and fight wound up getting Jose Callejon sent off, which isn't stellar, but the team didn't slow down one iota or give up at all despite going down a man. The end result wasn't stellar, but ignoring the score, there's a lot of reasons to be optimistic heading into the season.
Now it's time to take that passion and focus it into and even better performance against Porto in Portugal. Napoli have a little bit of Europa League revenge from two years ago that they need to exact -- even if it is just another friendly.