Napoli were simply not good enough against the league leaders to earn a win on Saturday, and two glaring individual mistakes doomed them to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Juventus, with the winning goal coming in gut-wrenching fashion from Gonzalo Higuain. Because of course that had to happen.
Napoli had moments when they played well, with lots of good one-touch football and an attacking mindset that caught Juventus off-guard at times. That was typified by the goal that Napoli scored, with Jose Callejon slipping through multiple defenders to latch onto a ball over the top from Lorenzo Insigne at the far post to finish easily past Gianluigi Buffon.
But the story of the match doesn’t revolve around Napoli’s goal -- instead, it revolves around two crippling individual errors that gifted Juventus two goals to win the match.
The first game moments into the second half, when during a corner kick sequence Faouzi Ghoulam tried to clear the ball out of the box. Unfortunately, he completely mis-hit the ball and sent it backwards instead, putting it almost onto the feet of Leonardo Bonucci, who made no mistakes in slamming the ball home.
The second mistake came 20 minutes later, when Gonzalo Higuain had a shot blocked in the box thanks to pressure from Allan not letting him take quite the shot he was looking for. Unfortunately, the rebound came straight back to Higuain, who had followed up his shot to a better spot -- and Allan did not follow it up at all. Higuain got the shot he wanted because of it, and scored the winning goal without more pressure from Allan.
While there were plenty of positives for Napoli in this match, especially a wildly impressive performance from Amadou Diawara and a lot of good moments in defense from Vlad Chiriches and Kalidou Koulibaly, the wider performance simply wasn’t good enough to get a result on the day. It’s time to go back to the drawing board on a lot of things for this team, because even with the excuses of injuries, too many things just aren’t working right now.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan (Zielinski 76’), Diawara, Hamsik (El Kaddouri 82’); Callejon, Mertens, Insigne (Giaccherini 61’)
Goals: Callejon (54’)
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini (Cuadrado 39’); Lichtsteiner, Hernanes (Sturaro 76’), Pjanic (Marchisio 68’), Khedira, Sandro; Mandzukic, Higuain
Goals: Bonucci (50’), Higuain (70’)