Napoli was victorious at home, 4-0 versus Livorno. Coming off a 2-0 loss to Arsenal in Champions League during the week, it was important that the squad regain it’s focus and right the ship. The goals for Napoli came from Goran Pandev, Gokhan Inler, Jose Callejon, and Marek Hamsik. Napoli had four regulars missing from the line-up with Gonzalo Higuain, Raul Albiol, Juan Zuniga and Christian Maggio out with injuries.
- Goran Pandev: Opening the scoring after only three minutes had past (fine through ball from Dries Meterns). Pandev has continued his scoring “streak” in Serie A (although he played versus Arsenal, I do not think anyone knew he did), with his third goal in two games. Hopefully he can keep up his play especially in Serie A and Coppa Italia where resting/replacing Higuain will/could be needed.
- Dries Mertens: He is finally looking comfortable with the team and playing in Serie A in general. As mentioned, he gave a nice through ball to Pandev for the first goal and then he also got a fortunate assist for Inler’s goal. He forced the young Livorno goalkeeper Francesco Bardi into making a highlight reel save off a free kick. Finally, on the 4th goal, Mertens provided another nice through ball for Lorenzo Insigne who’s initial shot was saved, however Hamsik was there for the rebound. With his play it is only a matter of time before he gets his first Serie A goal.
- Team Win: Although the match was versus a newly promoted side, Napoli played a good team game. They took an early lead, kept control of the match, team defense was relatively solid (Pepe Reina was barely put to test) and finished Livorno off. It was good to see the team rebound from what looked like a disaster mid-week.
- Decibel Bellini: This is the man who you hear after every goal scored at San Paolo to get the crowd to yell the goalscorers last name! Napoli fans were lucky enough to hear it four times on Sunday! It is awesome to listen to and he does a great job. You can follow him on twitter via
- Honorable Mentions: Davide Bariti getting some playing time, Giandomenico Mesto
- Rafa Benitez Starting XI: Yes, Napoli won. Yes, it is easy to criticize after the fact, however, I would have started Rafael Cabral and Paolo Cannavaro instead of Reina and Britos. For Reina, it is just to give rest and give playing time to Rafael. As for Britos, his game versus Arsenal was awful (most of the team was). He made a blatant error on the 2nd goal of Arsenal and missed his marking assignments all game. For those reasons, I would not have awarded him a start.
- Inler’s Goal (2-0): The goal itself was good for Napoli, however, Bardi, guaranteed would like to have that one back. Although Inler is known for his thunderous long range strikes, this one was long range but was not saved properly. Bardi tried to palm the ball (he should have punched it), his hands were weak and the ball went right through. He is young and will learn from his experiences both bad and good.
- Jose Callejon Celebration: The third goal was a smart 1-2 passing play between Callejon and Pandev, finished by Callejon. However, his celebration, in my opinion, was not a good one! It was almost as bad as Antonio Cassano’s dance after scoring his goal in the Parma-Sassuolo game. Hopefully, Callejon will redeem himself with better celebrations in the future.
In the end, at the second international break, Napoli sits in second place two points behind 100% AS Roma. The break gives Napoli an extra week off (for some players) to rest and recover from injuries. Upon their return from the break, Napoli faces two big challenges. The first is an away game on October 18 versus the undefeated AS Roma squad who are firing on all cylinders. Then on October 22, Napoli are away at Marseille in a pivotal Matchday 3 match in Champions League.
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