Napoli ultimately were made to pay for a slow start against Manchester City, but how did they do in Football Italia’s player ratings?
Words: Greg Murray
Pepe Reina - 5
Although the veteran ‘keeper would not have been expected to stop either of City’s goals and made a number of decent saves, he was let down by his overall play on the evening. On big game nights such as these, Maurizio Sarri needed his experienced players to keep a calm head, and Reina’s erratic passing put his teammates on edge, and in danger.
Elseid Hysaj - 5
Stopping the likes of Leroy Sane and David Silva was always going to be a near-impossible task for the right-back and Hysaj did relatively well in the circumstances. It’s testament to Hysaj’s performance how Sane’s influence increased after the Albanian was withdrawn with a head injury.
Raul Albiol - 4
Albiol suffered with Man City’s intensity in the opening 20 minutes, and was largely at fault for their second goal, in which the Spaniard cleared poorly before failing to track his man. As time went on, the centre-back grew into the match, and made a vital tackle in the second half, but never quite seemed to gather his nerves, making numerous errors.
Kalidou Koulibaly - 5
Napoli’s defensive titan looked far less dominant than when in Serie A. His goal-line clearance improved what was an uncharacteristically indecisive day for the defender.
Faouzi Ghoulam - 6
Ghoulam is another who looked shell-shocked in the first half hour, and was guilty of tracking neither Kyle Walker nor Raheem Stirling for City’s first goal. Although the Algerian’s job was harder than most given Lorenzo Insigne’s defensive work rate, had he paid more attention, Napoli could have avoided conceding early. Once City’s 25-minute onslaught burned out, Ghoulam found his feet and it was the left-back’s incisive run into the box that earned Napoli their second penalty.
Piotr Zielinski - 4
The best thing that can be said about Zielinski’s performance is that he was nearly invisible. On the rare occasions that the midfielder was noticeable, it was for the wrong reasons, such a failing to prevent Fernandinho’s cross, or for giving the ball away unnecessarily.
Amadou Diawara - 6
The 20-year-old was a surprise selection on the night, but carried himself well and surprised everyone by calmly converting a penalty. Considering the nervousness of many of the more experienced players, Diawara’s composure served his team well. Unfortunately, as Napoli’s system is very much built around the metronomic Jorginho, Diawara’s skill-set was unsuited to the role he was asked to fill.
Marek Hamsik - 4
Another poor night for the Partenopei captain, who looks a shadow of the player he was last season. Hamsik overplayed passes throughout, wasted a golden opportunity in front of goal, and needlessly lost possession in midfield on more than one occasion. He was brought off with 13 minutes to go, likely as protection for the weekend fixture, however, on today’s performance, he would be lucky to start against Inter.
Jose Callejon - 6
Callejon grew into the game, after barely seeing a touch for the first half-hour. As Napoli got a handle on the match, the winger’s influence increased, and he managed to pinch possession off Fabian Delph at left-back a number of times.
Dries Mertens - 5
Napoli’s star striker was always up for a tough night in Manchester, in a game in which he was isolated against the two centre-backs. By no means does Sarri expect Mertens to compete physically with the defenders, and considers the forward’s pace, dribbling ability and clinical finishing to make up for it. In these regards, the Belgian had a poor performance against City. His penalty miss was exceptionally tame, and he rarely tested Nicolas Otamendi by making runs behind.
Lorenzo Insigne - 7
Insigne’s performances are always hard to judge when his team loses. In the first half, the winger was Napoli’s best player by a distance. All the team’s creativity came through him, and he was vital in bringing the ball out from defence and transitioning into attack. This was all the more evident when he was brought off with a thigh problem, and Napoli’s left wing immediately lost its attacking threat.
On the other hand, had the Italian tracked Raheem Stirling’s run into the box, he would have prevented City’s first goal. It is well known that Insigne is not fond of defending, and that he has far less responsibility on that front than Callejon on the opposite flank. However, on nights like these, should he not have put his ego aside and defended with the rest of his teammates?
Allan – 8
The Brazilian midfielder was the only Napoli man on the night that played at his Serie A best. Replacing Insigne in the 56th minute, Allan’s arrival seemed a conservative move, however, the player’s grit and determination saw him win possession high up the pitch, nearly earning his side a goal on one occasion. Allan’s physicality also had a real impact defensively, and raises the question how the game would have turned out had Sarri started his first-choice midfield.
Christian Maggio – 4
Napoli’s second longest standing player replaced Hysaj and unsurprisingly struggled with the pace of Sane on the wing. He resorted to fouling the German in the second minute of extra-time, showing a lack of maturity from the man who had received the captain’s armband after Hamsik’s exit.
Adam Ounas – 6
Ounas only entered the pitch with 12 minutes remaining, but in that time showed a lot of promise, taking on players, and perhaps providing Sarri with a new option on the wing.