Napoli – AZ Alkmaar: AZ Hold On For A Monumental Win (0-1)

AZ’s defensive woes domestically were all but forgotten, as Slot’s side showed commitment and resilience in their 4-4-2 medium block – fending off Napoli for a victory at the Stadio San Paolo. The hosts were uncomfortable being forced into retaining so much possession, as the individual quality of their wingers was nullified by AZ’s defensive structure.   

Tactical analysis and match report by K.T. Stockwell

Napoli’s only loss this season was a forfeit to Juventus, after the club from Southern Italy elected not to travel because of confusion surrounding local and national coronavirus protocols. The obligatory 3-0 defeat is the only stain on an otherwise remarkable start to the season. Excluding the match against Juventus, Gennaro Gattuso’s men have allowed only one goal, while notching twelve of their own. Their most recent triumph, a convincing 4-1 victory over Atalanta, made their intention clear early in the Serie A season. 

The dynamism of his front four meant Gattuso made no changes to his forward unit and stood pat with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Victory Osimhen was once again selected to lead the line – flanked by Matteo Politano and Hirving Lozano, while Dries Mertens was handed the nominal number ten role. 

The abrupt cancellation of the 2019/20 Eredivisie season was especially cruel for AZ Alkmaar, who missed out on a Champions League berth through goal-difference. Nonetheless manager Arne Slot had coalesced a group of young, talented players around an inventive tactical approach and the future looked bright for the club. 

Unfortunately, the start to the domestic season has been nothing close to what was promised, as Slot’s . . .

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