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Napoli-Barcelona (1-1) – Scattered Considerations

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Napoli-Barcelona (1-1) – Scattered Considerations

Calzona’s Napoli does not disappoint against Barcelona. Good attitude, the qualification is still standing.

Francesco Calzona’s adventure on the Napoli bench began with a European draw, in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Barcelona. The first approach seems very clear: Napoli would strongly like to return to playing football. The initial attitude, however, is that of the amateur runner who goes for the first jog after an annoying ailment. The desire to make the extension a few months beforehand is always there, what is missing is the leg. Here, Napoli in the first minutes seemed eager to try to do something already seen last year but the months under the guidance garcio-mazzarriana they have evidently removed all the granite certainties on which the old blue gaming system was based. Trying to evade the Catalan pressing with the immediate ball to Lobotka was certainly the main tactical plan implemented by Calzona but the presence of Gündoğan certainly didn’t help the Slovakian’s task. The construction, in the end, was entrusted to the men on the wing, Di Lorenzo above all, capable of giving breadth to the game, providing fewer references to the opponents.

The 4-3-3 deployed by the new Neapolitan coach seemed like the Wish version of Spalletti’s, both in terms of attitude, proposal and men on the pitch. Calzona, not having the human capital that the national coach had at his disposal (Zielinski and Kim are no longer there, after all) did everything possible in the very short time available. The Neapolitan coach’s main task will be to recover Khvicha Kvaratskhelia first and foremost: although he has returned to pound the sideline, he has almost never turned on the lights and is a player who absolutely needs to be found again. Even Lindstrøm, who replaced him midway through the second half, seemed more brilliant than the Georgian. The only player who is always absolutely on point, despite the changes in coaches and philosophies, is Giovanni Di Lorenzo, an authentic leader and team man. Today, the Italian number 22, really seemed to be the only Italian capable of taking part in a direct elimination phase of the Champions League without ever making a bad impression.

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The blue attitude, however, seemed different compared to the latest releases under the guidance of Mazzarri. In addition to the desire to create a more proactive football, Calzona’s men always had the desire to stay in the game, despite Barcelona’s territorial dominance. The reaction to the eternal Lewandowski’s goal was vehement, even if at times confusing and disorganized in its manner. Even the pressing, although willing, seemed less than orderly but the attitude of the players was finally appreciated by an audience who, after so many disappointments, deserved an evening like this. Napoli have finally proven themselves worthy of a great European opponent.

Xavi had the clarity to confirm Christensen, on the midline, as has been done for a month now. The 51 goals conceded in 35 matches of the season certainly had an impact, he urgently needed to take action. The Dane, lined up alongside De Jong and Gündoğan, offered adequate cover to defuse Napoli’s sporadic attacks during the first hour of play. The trident formed by Lewandowski and the super young Pedri and Yamal (youngest player to play a knockout round of the Champions League at 16 years and 233 days) doesn’t particularly scratch, well contained by the Anguissa-Rrahmani-Juan Jesus cage. There were glimpses of the old Cancelo, with the Frenchman Koundé more in the shade.

The qualificationnow, leans slightly in favor of Barcelona. From Napoli’s side, however, the signs have been positive. Resisting the Catalans’ inevitable hot start will be the key to trying to bring home an unexpected qualification. The Azzurri have one more European season on their shoulders to try to make up for so much pressure. It’s not an invincible Barcelona, ​​not even for a convalescent Napoli.

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