Thursday November 28 2019
Napoli not dead yet

The rugged performance to hold out at Anfield was not that of a team in crisis, argues Giancarlo Rinaldi, but consistency has always been Napoli’s problem.

They were queueing up to deliver the last rites before this match. It was, we were told, the end of an era for this squad, its stars and probably its coach. But, at what appeared their darkest hour, Napoli showed reserves of character and quality which suggested their demise might not be as imminent as some had supposed. There’s life in the old club yet.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that the Partenopei are some kind of bogey team for the champions of Europe, but they are certainly an outfit that knows how to cause Jurgen Klopp a few headaches. They were on the ropes for long spells of this visit to Anfield, but stuck to a plan that took them to the brink of the Champions League knockout stages. That’s not a land where they let the mediocre venture.

In the first half, there were hints of the old swagger even despite the absence of the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Arek Milik and Jose Callejon from the starting line-up. Dries Mertens took his chance in style and there were moments when the odd pass between him and Hirving Lozano was just marginally overhit, as chances to cut Liverpool open presented themselves. A little more precision and they might have been further ahead at half-time.

The second period, though, was largely about digging in - which is not something you would expect if the club were truly in crisis. They resisted wave after wave of attack from Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino and just about held firm. A headed goal from Dejan Lovren might have cut the legs from under a weaker side - instead they stayed strong and can now glimpse the last 16.

Of course, there is an argument to say that it is easy to get a team “up” for matches like this and there is some truth in that. Everyone wants to play their best on the biggest stages, and it tends to encourage players to go above and beyond their usual limitations. It will be interesting to see if the same commitment comes at the San Paolo this weekend for a more humdrum Serie A clash with Bologna.

It was ludicrous to think these players and their coach had gone bad overnight, but they have definitely been underperforming in recent weeks. A squad refresh might be necessary, for sure, but the collapse does not appear as complete as was being described in some quarters. This is still a side packed with fine performers who are capable of producing some sumptuous football - they just need to do it more often.

When expectations get high, of course, the fall is always that much greater. Napoli have spoiled us in recent times with some of the best displays of any Italian club. The slip-ups this season have been uncharacteristic and, definitely a source of some concern.

However, their performance against one of Europe’s elite suggested they can still get some satisfaction from this campaign. This was a stepping-stone which gave some cause for optimism after all the negative headlines of the past few days. The weeks to come will tell us if a full recovery is possible - or if this was just a brief reprieve.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit:

Have your say...
Far from dead, the Partenopei are still a dangerous team that on their best days no European team wants to play. Rino must instill a mental toughness and confidence that they can defeat anyone, even Barcelona. Ancelotti is a technical legend but technique often doesn't prevail, winning comes from belief your team will succeed (ask Juventus).
This team must remain consistant with the choices they put on the pitch, players who want to win for Naples not just there own glory.
on the 2nd January, 2020 at 3:17pm
Half dead.
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 9:21am
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 7:52am
Even the best coach ever that have walked on this earth would never, even win anything if he has INSIGNE, Lorenzo il magnifico, the Totti of Napoli, "le mie palle al tartufo" what a waste of fantastic players the entire world envies us for, but no, we have to have INSIGNE no matter what.
on the 1st December, 2019 at 8:16pm
This is what you get when you think your club is big and a hot shot.
one period of bad results then everyone going crazy, the president, etc.
Even the players rebels against the club, there are no loyalties and respects. Everything doesn't sync.
You're not that big, Napoli. ADL, just accept it.. don't tortures your players anymore. Don't treat Napoli like the same level as Madrid or Barcelona or even Juventus.
Series of bad results are normal, it's football.
on the 30th November, 2019 at 11:28am
5 wins and a draw in Europe for Serie A.
All they need is new 30.000-60.000 seater stadiums to gain an extra 30-50 mill. each season. I hope the corrupt politicians will allow the clubs permission to build.
on the 29th November, 2019 at 11:53am
Liverpool has only lost or tied 6 games in all competitions this season!
2 of those 6 were against Napoli.
Watch your mouth before you curse Ancelotti.
Liverpool has been shut out ONLY ONCE this season - Napoli 2-0 Liverpool in September.
A slight dip in form has been overhyped & stretched too far. Give the players time & a gentle pat on the back & they'll prove their worth.
on the 29th November, 2019 at 9:41am
Considering that Napoli had very bad luck in the last couple of months with injuries, disgustingly adverse refereeing, robbed of at least 12 points, ADL's irrational behaviour did not help, add to that the usual antagonism of the Norther media (under Robentus control, Acnelotti and his men showed character, and are back, and the season is far from over.
Insigne must find another club he can't possibly come back, he is partly responsible for the recent turbulence.
on the 29th November, 2019 at 4:53am
Napoli are mentally shackled thanks to ADL and Carlo who needs to retire. You can't win trophy's when your players are not mentally in the right place. You say that a tie is a good result and I say that a win was actually there for the taking with the quality Napoli have but I guess bozo the clown doesn't know how to teach counter attacking and his players now don't have the belief and touch.
on the 29th November, 2019 at 2:50am
It's hard to find any positive in this match. I'm not against Napoli playing three at the back and I did enjoy that hard pressure in the midfield, but those counter-attacks were comical. Mertens and Lozano never seem to read each other well. Di Lorenzo seemed very comfortable as a right midfielder and probably is better suited whenever we have a proper healthy right back. But Fabian... we have to talk about that guy. He's slow as a turtle when he turns and loses way too many balls. He's a pain.
on the 28th November, 2019 at 8:50pm
What a tantalizing, frustrating, sometimes infuriating season Napoli are having. I'd tear my hair if I had any left.

Still, their Champions League future is in their hands, and in that they have given me all I could have hoped for. So, as they move forward, I will believe in them.

Seems the best choice on this American holiday of Thanksgiving.
on the 28th November, 2019 at 7:29pm
Napoli really should invest in a 50.000 seater arena with the help of local politicians.
It might cost 250 mill. but each year they will easily earn an extra 50 mill.
on the 28th November, 2019 at 7:01pm
They fought and showed heart and managed to defend with 10 men.

But what did Napoli create? They had 28% possession and one shot on target. It was one of Napoli's worst performances.

Ancelotti's problem is he cannot create balance, bring creativity or a game plan.

I saw nothing that gives me comfort the issues are resolved. The players always fight, there is just no system.

Ancelotti needs to go.
on the 28th November, 2019 at 5:22pm
Carletto shown his European pedigree with the difficult draw at Anfield.
on the 28th November, 2019 at 10:01am
Huge results for all 4 Italian teams in the CL this week.

Juve are through

Napoli are almost there, and could win the group yet.

Inter pulled it from the fire late on and now have a decent shot against what could be the Barca reserves.

Atalanta are still odds on to get knocked out, but after 3 games in this group they would have taken your hand off to be in the position they are now. Still unlikely that both results will go their way, but they have hope now.
on the 28th November, 2019 at 7:35am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.