SSC Napoli – Juventus: Set Pieces Decide Top-Of-The-Table Clash In Serie A (1-2)
Napoli versus Juventus is typically built up to be Serie A’s big, top-of-the-table showdown, at least in terms of quality football. It did not fully live up to the hype. However, the drama and controversy of the clash nonetheless made for an enthralling encounter.
Tactical analysis and match report by Peter M.
Carlo Ancelotti only felt the need to make one adjustment to the side that crushed Parma 4-0 last weekend. Talisman Lorenzo Insigne, was reintroduced in place of Dries Mertens up front. Otherwise, same names, same 4-4-2 system.
Max Allegri’s constantly-alternating eleven saw four changes from the side that beat Bologna 1-0 last time out. João Cancelo dropped from the right of midfield into his favored right-back position, as Emre Can took up a role in a midfield three with Mattia de Sciglio making way. Elsewhere, there were returns for first team regulars, Miralem Pjanić, Giorgio Chiellini and Wojciech Szczęsny.
Unsettled start results in midfield tussle
With both sides focusing their attacks down the same flank, it was hardly surprising to see a lot of congested plays with little attacking success. The two differing setups did, however, make for an intriguing tussle.
Napoli’s 4-4-2 formation quickly shifted to a more fluid 4-3-3. The omnipresent Fabián Ruiz could usually be found occupying the left-back slot as the home side formed a ‘W’ shape across the back in their buildup phase. Inside of the highly positioned Elseid Hysaj, were a crowd of attackers. Between them there were constant vertical interchanges, so finding different options for the ball-holder was never much of a . . .