Earlier today, SSC Napoli have reclaimed their title as Coppa Italia champions. This is their first trophy in six years. Un sogno.
During the prematch, I noticed Dries Mertens looking particularly nervous, as if all eyes were on him. Which they were. Who else would have pulled through for the Neapolitans other than him? Insigne is too inconsistent to be looked at as a game changer, although sometimes the little man can pull through for his native city.
The match was a stalemate. Juve controlled the first half, with most of Napoli’s possession taking place in their own half of the pitch. Since the coronavirus hiatus on football has come to an end, I have noticed that Gattuso has had his players play a very patient game.
Gattuso’s side have been letting the other team knock the ball around (sometimes a bit too much) and have also let the other team do the running. We have noticed, in the matches against Inter and Juventus that both teams have held most of the possession in the match and Napoli have not pressed too high on their opponents.
This tactic has proven to be a wise one. I believe Gennaro Gattuso is relying a lot on the fact that teams have not been training much and their fitness may not be up to par, so they will run as they normally do and suddenly start to slow down around the second half.
A prime example of this is the fact that you thought Cristiano Ronaldo got subbed off during halftime, but he was just too tired to show anything else. Or perhaps that could have been from the genius defending from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Nikola Maksimovic, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Rui. In that particular order.
Here’s some players that I feel like speaking more on:
Mario Rui getting an unnecessary yellow card and complaining to the ref about it, even though it was a horribly late challenge, is the most Mario Rui thing ever.
Diego Demme has shown that he can control the defensive work and keep the play moving in the midfield. He plays a Jorginho type roll, keeping the ball flowing even if it is just a 5-10 yard pass. It’s not so often that you see Demme take more than three touches on the ball. Class.
Piotr Zielinski showing once again that he is a player who must play every minute of every match. Here is a player who is constantly looking to move the ball and create opportunities going forward. And he is extremely fit, running his ass off until the final whistle, or until he gets taken off.
I think Fabian Ruiz is class, but he is another one who strikes me as inconsistent. I would love for Napoli to hold onto him as long as they can. He can truly be great for us, and has shown glimpses of pure genius. However, he seems very destined for Madrid.
Last but not least in terms of Napoli players that I feel I should mention, Alex Meret was man of the match. He very much proved himself yet again tonight. He made tonight’s penalty shootout look like a fun training session for him, and proved why he should be the starting number 1 under Gattuso. Especially if the only thing that was an issue was his footwork.