Napoli 0-3 Roma: Giallorossi Enjoying Neapolitan Hospitality (Serie A Matchday 20)

Without a doubt one of the main stadiums that contributed (and continue to contribute) to Italian football’s great history is Stadio San Paolo, and without a doubt the hospitality it continues to show for AS Roma will make Spalletti & Co. glad to return here next year.

It just seems that Napoli‘s home form, as good as it might be (the Azzurri had raked up 18 consecutive home matches without a loss), can’t help but break its teeth when it’s dealing with the Giallorossi. Who have now increased their Napoli-Roma victories streak to three (four if you add 2005′s Coppa Italia) and this without conceding a single goal. Scary. And unproductive (for Napoli that is), because Reja’s team now find themselves level with Roma in the standings, and the prospects of Champions League football (howevery illusory they might have been) slowly slipping away.

The only catch (and excuse for Napoli)? Roma’s first goal by Philippe Mexès was blatantly offside.

Tactically, the home team entered the field without a great deal of surprises: Hamsik was still out suspended, Zalayeta given full confidence as Lavezzi‘s striking partner. On the other end however, only one of the three returning Roma players found a starting spot: Doni in net. Totti was kept on the bench as a safety measure, while Panucci found its way in the stands (after apparently throwing Spalletti’s orders to sit on the bench right in his face). A great way to ease those contract renewal talks…

The start of the match was very vibrant on both ends, with Napoli immediately finding the way of the net through Zalayeta, and Roma instantaneously replying on the other end with Philippe Mexes. Unfortunately for the home team, one linesman was paying attention (signalling to the ref the first goal was not valid -the Uruguyan striker controlling the ball with his chest and then successively his arm), the other wasn’t (the French center-back was at least half-a-meter offside). End result of the first 15 minutes: one chance per side, two goals, but 1-0 Roma.

This being said, while the goals scoring chances were equal on both sides, the same cannot be said for the quality of play. While Napoli have every right to be pissed with the refereeing decisions, they have got only themselves to blame for their midfield & defensive problems: lack of pace & ball control for the former (Pizarro & De Rossi proving to be vastly superior today), severe lack of concentration for the latter (with the Santacroce-Contini-Cannavaro trio far from their moment of glory). And things certainly didn’t improve with Mannini, who in trying to save a throw-in at the halfway line cleared the ball back into corner-kick, which resulted into Juan’s winning header for the 2-0 Roma lead.

The second half Napoli substitutions (Bogliacino on for Pazienza) did very little to alter the direction this match had taken. The Azzurri were in “submissive” mode, and much more effective was Spalletti’s decision to bring in Aquilani (Pizarro picked up a knock) who stole the ball at the 30 yard line, and served Mirko Vucinic a good pass for the 3-0 tally.

Game effectively over. The only remaining highlight for Napoli was a very athletic Zalayeta bicycle kick, which certainly deserved glorious fate but found the ready hands of Doni to parry into corner. German Denis made his appearance but to no avail. In fact, the Giallorossi obtained another few good chances through Taddei, Baptista, and Aquilani, and only lack of accuracy/concentration spared the Napoli from an ever grimier fate. The long face of Lavezzi at the end of the match said it all…


 S.S.C. Napoli
[Match Highlights]
A.S. Roma
GOALSCORERS: 18′ Mexès (R), 32′ Juan (R), 50 Vucinic (R).
NAPOLI (3-5-2): Gianello – Santacroce, P.Cannavaro, Contini – Maggio, Blasi (81’ Montervino), Pazienza (46’ Bogliacino), Gargano, Mannini – Lavezzi, Zalayeta (66’ Denis). (bench: Navarro, Rinaudo, Aronica, Russotto). Coach: Reja.
ROMA (4-4-2): Doni – Cassetti, Mexès, Juan, Riise – Taddei (82’ Perrotta), De Rossi, D.Pizarro (46’ Aquilani), Brighi – J.Baptista, Vucinic (70’ Menez). (bench: Artur, Loria, Okaka, Totti). Coach: Spalletti.


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Posted in Napoli, Roma, Serie A |

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