The old saying goes: ‘Still waters run deep.’ It means that below an apparently calm surface you find unexpected layers. It is still Juventus who change and yet remain the same, who keep calm in crisis and reveal remarkable strength in depth. It is still Juventus at the top, where they have been for well over a year. Napoli had been able to ripple the waters in the Coppa Italia Final and the contentious Italian Super Cup, but not in Turin.
When a team wins without two of their most decisive players, that suggests real solidity. Add to that two substitutes who get the goals, ensuring 12 different names have been on the scoresheet in eight matches, and you have a side that looks unbeatable. Even though Gigi Buffon and Mirko Vucinic were out of action, the Bianconeri still seemed fairly comfortable against a full-strength Napoli and Marco Storari had precious little to do. Only Edinson Cavani’s majestic free kick rattled the woodwork in the first half, as he showed no signs of fatigue from the long intercontinental trip.
It is absolutely fitting that the goals should’ve come from Martin Caceres and Paul Pogba. The first a tried and tested soldier for the cause who is happy to step in when needed and already scored crucial goals last season against Milan. The second a smart Bosman signing who can represent the future of the club and chose the perfect time to break his Serie A duck. Even Beppe Marotta’s harshest critics have to acknowledge this team was built with economic alacrity, as Andrea Pirlo and Pogba were free transfers, while Caceres was originally tested on loan before they took up their option this summer and Kwadwo Asamoah was an absolute bargain from Udinese. They may not have signed a ‘top player’ this summer, but Juventus have a squad that more than makes up for that.
On the other hand, Napoli proved once again they have an excellent first XI and little else. Lorenzo Insigne was only introduced after they were 2-0 down despite Goran Pandev having an off day, but remains the lone real option to come off the bench. Could you take away two of their regular starters and expect a victory in a Scudetto showdown? Highly unlikely. The Partenopei did not play badly in Turin, but the fact remains they are powered by enthusiasm. If they had scored an opener, then maybe Napoli would’ve gone on to get a result. Instead they conceded two in two minutes and were visibly shaken to the core. That is not what champions are made of and Napoli still have a way to go.