It wasn’t the most exciting game, but we saw some positive individual signs throughout the squad as Napoli scored early and then cruised to an 1-0 win over SPAL 2013 in Serie A action.
Napoli stepped on the gas coming out of the gates, with their first shot of the match coming from Lorenzo Insigne, banging off the woodwork just a few moments into the match. Two minutes later, it was Allan finishing off a pinging team move, with Jose Callejon feeding Dries Mertens at the top of the box, then the Belgian sending it back to Callejon as the entire SPAL defense bit on the initial pass. Callejon wasn’t in good position to shoot off the return pass, but he was in position to slip it through to a sprinting Allan to bang home to give Napoli the lead just six minutes into the match.
Marek Hamsik had another ball in the back of the net, but it was waved off after a lengthy VAR delay thanks to the captain being slightly offside. There was mild controversy over the call, though, as Decibel Bellini had finished his celebratory chanting and SPAL were already set to restart the match before referee Claudio Gavilucci indicated that he was going to the replay. The call was ultimately correct, but the delay in getting there and then the very long delay for the review itself were frustrating.
And... that was pretty much the match. Outside of those three shots, there was little of note as far as the full breadth of the game went. Napoli dominated possession and pretty well coasted through most of the match. To be fair, SPAL were perfectly willing to try to play up to the occasion, but were simply outclassed by a Napoli side who were disinterested in letting their opponents into the match.
For all the ease of the day, though, there were plenty of positive signs in the squad. Lorenzo Insigne ran rampant on the day, dictating play in the final third and running circles around SPAL’s defense on the ball, and giving them nightmares when they were in possession with his pressing. His finishing wasn’t quite there, but he was so impressive in the full extent of his performance that it was impossible not to stand up and take note.
Allan also impressed, as he had his best all-round performance in some time, even without the goal that he scored. Jorginho, Jose Callejon, and even Raul Albiol and Mario Rui all had solid showings as well, so it wasn’t all just dull tedium with nothing real to show for it other than the three points.
Of note, one other Napoli-owned player did fairly well in this match, even if he wasn’t wearing azzurri on the day. Alberto Grassi has been a regular starter in SPAL’s midfield this season while out on loan, and while he wasn’t outstanding on the day, he was solid in possession and wasn’t actively a weak spot in their midfield. It was actually a step back from his general performance level so far this season, as he’s been one of SPAL’s better performers in the middle of the pitch. He’s still not quite on a level of being able to start for Napoli, but he’s improving, and that’s encouraging after the total loss the start of his Napoli career was.
So on a whole, it wasn’t a bad day for Napoli. It wasn’t exciting in the form of a huge win, but they got the three points, had no major scares, and had a bunch of positive individual performances. In the middle of a stressful title race, we’ll take that.
On to the next.