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UEFA Champions League 2018-19: After PSG draw, Napoli need to take it one game at a time

Jonte Fonsi
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
294   //    07 Nov 2018, 16:20 IST

Did Napoli draw with the Parisians, again? It's tempting to mention now that they also put five past Empoli last time out, but Empoli are a team that have only been promoted to the top flight.

I'd originally intended to have this piece focus on a stellar performance against PSG (which was not forthcoming on the night) and perhaps only fleetingly bring up that fat but obscure win. It was significant only up to the point that it ensures they keep pace with Dybala and Co at the summit, and stall Inter who are breathing hard down their necks.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly in a duel with Kylian Mbappe during the UEFA Champions League Group C match at the Stadio Sao Paolo
Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly in a duel with Kylian Mbappe during the UEFA Champions League Group C match at the Stadio Sao Paolo

The football on show in the Napoli vs PSG match wasn't thoroughly enjoyable, except, perhaps, for Kylian Mbappe doing his thing down the flanks. The compactness of the Napoli backline made sure it didn't get alarming, but otherwise I think the sting was taken out of the game for many periods.

It's funny to remember that for all their firepower, PSG had to rely on a solitary strike from their left-back—he had a pretty solid game—to sail them through. And there also plenty of doubts when Lorenzo Insigne lined up to execute the spot kick.

That's because Gigi Buffon, besides admitting this week that he feared Napoli would snatch the Scudetto last year, was at that moment blowing away every one bar Mark Schwarzer to the oldest-debutant-for-a-club-in-the-Champions-League gong. It was simply vain.

From Napoli's perspective, it has to be hoped that Dries Mertens suffered nothing severe.

So in the end I remembered to pat the crest in honor of everyone in sky blue—heck, Napoli just hiked atop the standings. Things look good. I bet four points from the remaining couple of games (Liverpool and the Serbs) will be enough to proceed.

Really, that should be no big ask, huh? Meanwhile, Marek Hamsik's longevity at the club was appreciated with a record number of appearances marked yesterday. He's been a revelation, but most of all a faithful servant. To some more seasons!

Marek Hamsik engages in a gesture with PSG's Edinson Cavani
Marek Hamsik engages in a gesture with PSG's Edinson Cavani

All things considered, the fact that one of the French champions, Italian runners-up and last season's finalists has to bow out at the preliminaries is a testament to the ridiculousness of the Champions League.

Scrolling through my match-day feed, I uncovered some interesting facts about both clubs. While in 2007 Napoli were gaining promotion to the Serie A, PSG failed to make the Champions League group stages in 2004.

Soccer-nomics is a purely fascinating subject. So I will end this to go and read some more.

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Jonte Fonsi
CONTRIBUTOR
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