Wednesday June 17 2020
Credit to coach Rino Gattuso

Napoli ultimately deserved the Coppa Italia, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi, as Gennaro Gattuso has given them an identity where Maurizio Sarri still has not for Juventus.

There was not a lot of social-distancing at the full-time whistle, but we will forgive them for that. At the end of a unique Coppa Italia Final, the Napoli players were surely allowed to let their emotions get the better of them. And only the hardest heart could have begrudged Rino Gattuso this victory so soon after the tragic death of his sister. Some things - we have learned of late - are bigger than football.

It was not just sentiment, however, that suggested the Partenopei deserved to take the trophy. There was not a lot in the match, but they looked the side most likely to break a stubborn deadlock for more of the game against a Juventus team still in search of its true identity. The winning coach was to be admired not only for his professionalism in difficult circumstances, but also for the wider work he has done in stabilising a team which looked to have lost direction under Carlo Ancelotti.

This encounter, in truth, was far from a classic. Be careful what you wish for, some might say. After weeks without football, the Final was often about as thrilling as an evening out with one of the fake fans superimposed on the Stadio Olimpico stands. But - you know what? - most of us didn’t really care. We were just glad to pretend, for one night anyway, that life might be heading back to normal sometime soon.

Yes, it was a fiction thinner than Jose Callejon’s moustache but it was pleasing to delude ourselves nonetheless. How many nights during lockdown did we dream of any kind of game to watch - even one which, quite frankly, often induced a torpor deeper than Gigi Buffon’s booming voice picked up on the pitchside microphones? Nobody will be keeping this one too long on the hard drive of history.

And yet, and yet - this was a game as much about what it symbolised as its outcome. Italy was the European nation plunged deepest and earliest into the coronavirus crisis, so to see sport emerge was a small sign of hope. In some weird way, perhaps, we had longed for a spectacle just as boring as this one was at times.

The extenuating circumstances for both sides were plentiful, after all. A lack of atmosphere, less than full fitness and a mild uneasiness at playing football while people are still suffering will all have played their part. An eerie, edgy and slightly surreal clash was always the most likely outcome.

There were flashes, yes, of what we might see in weeks to come, but the fear of losing this first post-lockdown shot at silverware seemed to dominate. Lorenzo Insigne, Paulo Dybala and the likes promised us a lot more than they ultimately delivered. A glorious chance - and fine Buffon save - in injury time ensured the penalties which had felt increasingly inevitable. Napoli - on balance - deserved a bit more, but never quite threw caution far enough away to seize the victory in normal time. Juve remained the enigma they were before football went on hold - although this time a losing one. For some fans - who do not believe defeat is in the Bianconero DNA - it will be a bitter pill to swallow. Maurizio Sarri, no doubt, will find his fan mail bag empty on Thursday morning.

The penalty shoot-out was a dramatic epilogue that you can fast forward to if you have the game recorded somewhere. A fine Alex Meret save and a Danilo shot so far off target it might possibly have gifted a football as a memento to a passerby outside the ground were the decisive moments. When Arek Milik knocked home the winner, that slightly incongruous pile-up ensued.

We can’t read too much into the outcome, in truth, as it felt like such a one-off encounter - almost a pre-season friendly, but being held nearer the end of this campaign. That won’t stop a little niggling doubt that perhaps this Juventus squad is not quite the winning machine it looked - domestically in particular - before the enforced break. Nor should it diminish the kudos for Napoli and their coach in taking a trophy, no matter how bizarre the whole affair felt at times.

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Have your say...
@Branca...Allegri didnt win Champions league either, in fact choked in 2 finals, made terrible decisions, he had more European experience as a coach, the players had a bit more experience under their belt. They had just ahd 2 th place finises when Cote took over. And he did something similar at Chelsea,and is doing similar at inter, he builds resilience and fight. Conte's Juve would more often look in control in games, grind 1 nil wins, score late on in games as they had the energy and fight.
on the 23rd June, 2020 at 10:49am
As a LAZIO FAN congratulations to NAPOLI and GATTUSO winning the cup. Juventus can't win all the time so i still think they will win the Scudetto and they will go downfall very soon as they have old players and they will need to invest etc. SO when it does come to that hope LAZIO NAPOLI OR INTER MILAN OR OTHER TEAMS will the Scudetto as it's boring to see Juventus will it every time.
on the 21st June, 2020 at 4:01pm
@Anonymous: "Juves mentality under him was amazing" care to explain how Allegri took the Same team Conte had that lost to Galatasaray and then Benfica in EL and how took that exact same team to the CL finals ?
on the 19th June, 2020 at 8:32pm
Yes we can all pick a few games where under conte where they were poor, and I did say that I know in Europe they were weak, but Conte was learning there too, but the Juves mentality under him was amazing, and the energy they had, the fitness they had was far above anything they have now. And he is building inter the same way, so I stand by what I said.
on the 19th June, 2020 at 1:07pm

1) Get a real name, otherwise STFU and go back to 4chan...

2) Taking penalties requires skill as much as determination and resolve... You can't ask an idiot like Cuadrado to take a penalty - he barely has any skills let alone bottle...

3) STFU and read point #1
on the 19th June, 2020 at 8:01am
1st of all credits to gattuso. he came with a game plan. defend with 11 and break on the counter. it work for them. juve struggled to break them down. they were number of problems. in midfield: to play this tika taka, one or toe touches and runs off the ball. pjanic wants to play like under allegri where he plays like pirlo. holds unto the ball and he isnt making any runs off the ball. it wont work. in attack ronaldo on the wing isnt taking on anybody. he is better being CF.players got to buyin
on the 19th June, 2020 at 1:06am
About the only payer who seems good for Juve is Bentancur. The rest you can open up a trash can and throw them in. I'm not even going to say anything about Napoli because they didn't even do anything that can be considered special other then win a game against a team with a rubbish Ronaldo past his prime and a young Dybala that has the stamina of a child.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 10:39pm
Dear FI, can you PLEASE do a better job of looking at what people are allowed to post? How in this day and age can a team be labeled a “MAFIA team” is beyond me. Please stay classy and keep the attention seekers at bay.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 9:02pm
Gattuso may not be a notable "tactician" as many critics claim, but games are won on the pitch and Napoli played with a defensive sense that Juve could not solve.
When Juve has problems finding Ronaldo and Dybala they suffer since they lack strong playmakers in the midfield to break down a defence played by all 11 men.
Yes luck and skill play a part in penalty kick victories, Napoli looked more fit and more determined. Rino deserves credit for instilling confidence in his squad deserving the win
on the 18th June, 2020 at 9:00pm
@ Anonymous: Truly last time I enjoyed watching juve was under Conte ..... care to re-watch the Juve-Galatasaray game ? or the Juve-Benfica game ? or the 3-1 loss to Inter ? or the 2-0 lead against Fiorentina that we got blown out 4-2 ? I DEFINETELY DO NOT MISS CONTE AT JUVE !!!!!
on the 18th June, 2020 at 6:42pm
I felt the game could’ve gone either way, but for sure Napoli carved out the better scoring chances and deserved the victory.
It’s very easy to hammer Juve and laud Napoli, but from a Napoli point of view, I’d rather be sitting top on the league. Napoli were on a nice run before the break, and I’m very glad to see they have remembered to apply themselves and keep up they work. For this, Gattuso deserves credit and has shown he is a capable coach.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 5:49pm
De Ligt, Demiral, Bentancur, Kulusevski, Dybala should form the basis of a good team for the next 5-10 years but only if other players of real quality are added around them. I wonder if Sarri will have the balls to drop Ronaldo who causes all kinds of tactical issues and is detrimental to the overall performance of the team. A certain Mr Pochettino is still available and would be a great fit
on the 18th June, 2020 at 5:28pm
It's great for Italian football in general to have someone else winning the league/cups but only if it's because the other teams are getting better and not because the best team is getting worse (which is happening). The end of an era is fast approaching for Juve with an aging team and the next few windows will be make or break. Get it right and they'll continue to challenge, get it wrong and it could be years in the wilderness.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 5:24pm
Pinturicchio for you to put CR7 on that list of penalty takers means your are like the rest of Juve fans blind to the fact that CR7 is useless. In la liga he thrived because la liga is a mediocre league and he has been propped up by journalists and corporate backers that have all bought into the media hype. Furthermore Seria A is the most rigourous league in the world. Juve problem is relying on CR7. They need to build more homegrown players and stop this $$$ scheme with foreign garbage.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 4:05pm
Congratulations to Maurizio Sarri. He finally was able to deliver silverware to Napoli.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 3:46pm
Firstly, congrats to Napoli and all their fans. At least they wanted it more than Juve. Supposedly, this was Juve's third choice trophy (so they said!!). To me, this is a feeble excuse to justify yet another lacklustre and boring performance - which by now - we have come to expect from them. Losing two domestic finals in a row is inexcusable for a club like Juve. Buffon was their best player on the night for god sake!! and that says it all. Its time for an overhaul - starting with Pjanic.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 3:19pm
To those saying Napoli played for penalties/did nothing:

Juve only had 8% more possession;

Napoli had two more shots, and 4 more shots on target;

Napoli buried every single penalty.

If anything, it was Juve that played for penalties and lost. Stop crying just because Juve, Sarri, and Ronaldo were throughly outplayed and you didn't have the ref or VAR to bail you out this time.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 2:29pm
Bravo Napoli! You filled my heart, after seeing the MAFIA team squeezing through the semis with (far better Milan). Overall speaking, after all the atrocities done by Rubentus the previous seasons, this is the one when they'll crumble completely!
THIS WAS THE START OF THE END! It'll continue with Lazio winning the Scudetto & the final blow will be given by a team they were supposed to steamrole - O.Lyon, who will kick the out of UCL, living the thought: "Next year, we'll get you!" 4ever tattooed
on the 18th June, 2020 at 2:12pm
Lol Sarri said individuals not taking opponents on.... Luca Toni said CR7 cannot dribble. Why??? Why?? Lol. Now CR7 won't pass for the rest of the season!! LOL
on the 18th June, 2020 at 1:11pm
Idk about others but this season, every time I have seen Douglas Costa it seems like he doesn't even train with the team. Yeah he's fast but its not like hes running down the wing and putting in a good cross or pass. He mostly cuts back into the center and runs into someone else's space. Or worse yet.... he passes it off to PJANIC!! (oh the horror)
on the 18th June, 2020 at 1:07pm
Was CR7 intended to actually play CF? I think there lies a big problem. The fact that he spent 80% of his time on the wings shows he pretty much doesn't trust that he will get good service in CF role (or maybe he more comfortable there and just said efff Sarri).
on the 18th June, 2020 at 1:02pm
Congrats to Napoli, Juve were awful. @MikeySteel Napoli sat back and at least tried to counter. Juve looked clueless.

Sarri's tactics
1) All midfielders, take 2 touches max and half of them needs to be sideways or back.
2) All midfielders, if you see CR7, Dybala or Higuain make a run through to center DO NOT play the early pass. Play it out wide to Cuadra or Sandro to slow down the play
3) Pjanic, when our defense has the ball, drop deep to link up with them... DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE
on the 18th June, 2020 at 12:59pm
so far since Sarri took over, Juve have played more disorganised than ever, conceded more goals than ever, score few, and lost 2 possible cups. Truly last time I enjoyed watching juve was under Conte, the energy, hunger and fight, yeah Europe was poor, but they played as a team and with real grit.I am becoming despondent, and Sarri gives same excuses every time, making out 10 mins of decent play is acceptable in a game, terrible at the minute.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 11:34am
Napoli were so negative, yet on the rare occasions they went forward they caused JUve problems everytime and hit the post twice. Juve had all the ball and did nothing. Crosses form corners were appalling, no passing, Ronaldo anon, when Buffon is man Juves best playerh, yet Napoli rarely attacked something is wrong. This was a really disappointing watch as a Juve fan. Napoli played for penalties (I felt), but at least they played something, Juve were so passive, I even thought of turning it off
on the 18th June, 2020 at 11:32am
Congrats to Napoli & Rino. Well done.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 9:50am
Just really lovely waking up in the morning and remembering that Juve lost yet another final. Can't even win a Coppa Italia now let alone Champions Leagues :'). Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 9:26am
(Part 2/3)

3) Hopefully we sell that piece of nothing Pjanic and get a revamped midfield, no good nothing dead weights like Ramsey and especially Rabiot need to dropped like hotcakes as well.

PS: We have penalty specialists in our team

1) CR7

2) Dybala

3) Pjanic

4) Bernardeschi

5) Bonucci

3 of the 5 names above didn't step up - that says it all.

on the 18th June, 2020 at 9:21am
(Post 1/3) Clearly 1) Napoli trained harder; they must've been fired up for the final, seeing as they're out of the Scudetto... Whereas I can guarantee that the Juventus front 3 didn't practice properly (even against Milan the shoddy passing and lack of chemistry was clear) 2) Remember in SFs CR7 missed a penalty against Milan? This means that Sarri didn't work rigorously enough with penalties... Look at all 4 Napoli penalties - precise, no showoff, only business... Very poor!
on the 18th June, 2020 at 9:19am
What credit? To get credit, you need to do something credible. Doing nothing for 90 then winning on penalties, isn't credible, it's just a lottery. I like Gattuso, but this article is premature.
on the 18th June, 2020 at 6:33am
Congrat to Napoli...From Juve fan
on the 18th June, 2020 at 3:18am

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