Napoli 0-1 Juventus: 5 Talking Points
Gonzalo Higuain’s goal was the only thing that separated Napoli and Juventus when they met in Naples last night as the title holders ran out 1-0 winners.
Napoli dominated the possession, but Higuain’s goal against his former club, which he still celebrated ferociously, was to be the only goal of the game. Before the game Napoli were undefeated, but Juventus were able to end that record whilst they also aided their title hopes, gaining ground on the league leaders.
Here were five talking points from last night’s game:
#5 Napoli won't find it easy replacing Faouzi Ghoulam
Faouzi Ghoulam looks like he will not sign a new contract this summer, and could even sign a pre-contract with a new club this January.
This leaves a dilemma for Napoli, as the Algerian is so crucial to the way the team from Naples play. The dilemma has been made explicitly clear in recent weeks, where Napoli have been forced to play without him due to injury.
And today, not having Ghoulam at left-back arguably cost them. Although it wasn’t strictly Marco Rui’s fault, as Kalidou Koulibaly was ball watching, he could have shuffled inside and stopped Higuain. Instead, he allowed the Argentinian to score the decisive goal of the match, putting a dent in Napoli’s confidence.
Furthermore, playing Rui in recent weeks, after Ghoulam got injured in Napoli’s Champions League home tie with Manchester City, has clearly had an impact. Immediately after his substitution due to injury against City, Napoli would go on to suffer defeat in the second half.
Moreover, in matches against Chievo and Udinese and Juventus last night, they have looked uninspiring, struggling to offer the width they usually do on the left side, with Ghoulam often makings runs either inside with the ball or off the ball outside Lorenzo Insigne.
It may be worthwhile for Napoli to look for a new left back in January, with the clear effect losing Ghoulam has already had on their side. Otherwise, they definitely need to replace the Algerian with an adequate replacement this summer.